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Defoe Lawyers’ Collaboration

Brookwood students representing Tommy Defoe in this case (these students come from three different class sections, each of which has three lawyers representing Defoe; a couple of kids are missing from the photo):

Defoe Lawyers

Here are some of Defoe’s lawyers sharing their thoughts on the impending hearing:


  1. I am a lawyer for Tommy Defoe. For you guys at BGA, what does the confederate flag mean to you? Up in the north, we think of it as mostly bad stuff, but do you in the south think of it as good?

    • Yes, what do you guys think of when you think of the Confederate flag? I think the answer to this would probably help both team of lawyers (for Brookwood and BGA) win the case! Do you guys also have any information that would be worth sharing?

      • I am a lawyer for Tom Defoe and although I am a “Southerner” the Confederate flag is still a symbol of hard times for the USA. Being part of our history, the Civil War is a thing we must learn and we should learn to embrace the fact that it is a long time after the end of the war. 23% of Southerners had slaves, ONLY 23%. As we grow up and go to school (not that school is bad), these thoughts were exaggerated and it feels as if more people had slaves. It would feel as if it was closer to anywhere between 65% to 85%.

        As for information, all I found out that the same school had a Swastika (graffiti) on the wall and although they were caught, nothing really happened to them. I would use this as a saying that the school has had many things on how the school had not done anything about this. Another thing is the Tinker Case, if you haven’t looked this up you should, it was a good idea.

    • we don’t think of it as good, but it reminds us of the things we did wrong. it is part of our culture and we need to learn from it. Also, the civil war was fought for many reasons, not just slavery.

      • Yes, I agree with Ben. We know that it doesn’t just represent slavery, but as Ben said we want to get the perspective from someone that lives in the south. Is there a lot of racial conflict where you live? What does the Confederate flag mean to you?

      • When I look at the civil war, I first think that the states were not being treated fairly. When I see the flag, I see the /x/ through the 13 stars (13 colonies) as saying, “Cross us out of the Union.” I believe that the civil war was fought because not just because of slavery, but also of economic and political differences. The confederate flag represents states’ rights. It does represent rebellion in some extent. But it also represents pride of being part of the South. It shows that the southerners would stand up for themselves and fight for what they believed in.
        The Confederate Flag is flown because for each person it has a different meaning. I agree that it has ties to racist views and it has been put in the face of African Americans throughout times of struggle and hardship, but in the end it is just a flag and the venom does not come from the symbol but the person who hoists it. Take away the Confederate Flag and the hate will still exist and those people will just gather under another banner or group.
        Also, any symbol represents different things to different people. The swastika was originally a sign of peace, but was turned into a symbol of hatred, evil, and Hitler. A cross was first looked at with scorn and associated with a criminal, but now it has become the sign for a major religion. I mean who saw that coming? The flag can be viewed in so many different ways because ones thoughts, ideas, beliefs and morals are based on how they were brought up as well as their environment and influences.
        I went to dictionary.com and here is the definition I was given of the Confederate Flag:

        Confederate flag:
        The first flag of the Confederate States of America

        This is the first and only definition that is given. When googled, you find so many definitions of what it means/ stands for. I personally believe it represents states’ rights, nothing more and nothing less.

        • I think that you are right about the Confederate flag and that it is stereo-typed to only representing slavery when it is just a sign of heritage for some people. Though, a symbol will not be seen the way that it is intended by everyone. A person does not know the real motive behind that person wearing or displaying the Confederate flag, and since it is such a controversial symbol, it can create a lot of tension for others. I think that you are right about the flag, but there are reasons for places to limit wearing it, for it is not seen the same by everyone.

    • I am a lawyer for Tom Defoe as well. When I think of the Civil War, I see it as more of a wake-up call for our country. It serves as a significant event to refer back to in case of future, similar situations. Most people view the Confederate Flag as a symbol of slavery or hatred, which makes sense for the time of the war. Now, however, in my opinion, it is a symbol of recognition for the South’s independence and background. It’s a symbol of our culture, including who we were then, who we are now, and what we do as contribution to our country.

  2. I am also a lawyer for Tommy. We have a lot of good precedents for our case, and some great information that will help us a lot. But do you BGA students need any information from us, about the North? We’d be happy to help. As Katharine would say…”Let’s win this for Tommy Defoe!!!” Thanks guys!

  3. not sure if you guys have looked at the tinker case, but in the tinker case, the two students who wore the armbands were protesting the Vietnamese war, while Tom Defoe was just representing his culture. also, at Tom’s school, there were many more severe instances that were not dealt with nearly as harshly. nowhere have we found that anyone but the principle was offended by the belt or shirt.

    • If no one but the principal was offended, why did this case take place? The principal of a school cannot order suspension without any support from other, highly ranked faculty/administration.

      • More people than the principal was offended. I agree with Clara Wempe, the school can’t suspended Defoe if only the principal was effected. I could understand that Defoe got suspended if his clothing representing the Confederate flag if what he was wearing caused tension between the students, which it didn’t.

    • Yes. This is called viewpoint discrimination. This is where something is dealt with in a much bigger way than it should or something just as bad, because the person who does the punishing is more disliking towards one thing than the other. And in this case, the discriminator was the principle. He probably just has a problem with the flag, so his reaction was bigger than it probably should have been.

      • Yes, I agree, though the principal would defend himself in the case saying that there was evidence of “racial smoke” in the school and that he was just trying to stop if from becoming a bigger issue. I don’t know if you are on the Supreme Court or not, but there was a question in our assignment sheet that lead to an article where the principal described all of the issues with rasicm in the school. It was a pretty big list, and it really did back up his case. I do think you are right, but the principal I bet still believes that he has a valid point to not allow Defoe to wear the Confederate flag belt.

    • Ya! that is a great precedent!! If you go to knoxnews.com and search “The Tinker Case” you can find a bunch of stuff on the Tinker Case and you can find the exact wording of when the Chief Justice said the specific wording of the standard for future First Amendment cases in schools. That will really help, it helped our group A LOT!

  4. What Precedents do you have at BGA? So far my group of lawyers has the Burnside case, the Lewis v. Hunter Huss Junior High School, and a case that might not be a court case (it included a person named Byron Thomas who hung a confederate flag outside his dorm room at USCB)

    • The Byron Thomas case is not a real court case, it is an instance however showing that the flag is a symbol of southern heritage, especially because Mr. Thomas is an African-American.

  5. I discovered this precedent about a student who displayed a banner saying “BONG HiTS 4 JESUS” at a school event. School officials thought the sign was being used to advocate illegal drug use. The principle of the school demanded he took it down and when he refused ripped it in half. There is more info about it here:


    Does anyone else have any other precedents?

  6. Many symbols have had duplicate meanings. The confederate flag is a symbol of heritage and pride in being southern. Are people proud to be southern where you live? How does it feel to be proud of where you live?

  7. Our Defoe team won the case! I think we won because we had very good precedents, and good points. Another example of something that helped our case was when we worded the First Amendment and also said that Tommy did not make any disturbances. Good luck to all the Defoe lawyers at BGA who have their case today!

  8. We won the case! Hurrah!! We had very good precedents and we used the first amendment to prove our point. We also used a quote from Mary Beth Tinker stating that for our country to be a democracy we are going to have to except controversy.

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