Home » Archive 2013-2014 » School Lawyers’ Collaboration

School Lawyers’ Collaboration

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

School Lawyers

Lawyers for the school speak about the impending hearing:


20 Comments

  1. What other websites have you found that are helpful? We have found many other cases that give us precedent such as Bethal vs. Frasier and Hazelwood vs. Kuhlmeir.

    • We looked at some of the limits put on free speech in schools based on the Tinker vs Des Moines case, and found something that might help our case a lot; in the Tinker’s case, the Supreme Court stated that school officials must show that an expression would cause a “material and substantial disruption” to limit the speech, and I think that there was a major potential for that to occur in the Defoe case.

    • So far my group has two really good precedents, Melton vs. Young (1972), and Augustus vs. School Board of Escambia County (1975), as well as the Tinker vs. Des Moines case Henry mentioned. In the Melton vs Young case, a boy in high school in Tennessee wore a jacket depicting the confederate flag. He was suspended, but filed a lawsuit saying that it is a “vague” symbol and it can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. The school won though, saying that the school had a lot of past racial tension, including a fight at a football game. In the Augustus vs. School Board of Escambia County, there were multiple fights, one even requested the help of local police officers. The school banned the flag from the school completely, saying that they were worried that things would escalate, and something worse would happen.

      • Those are great precedents, but looking back to what Mary Beth Tinker said, in this case (Defoe) there is no actual evidence of racial disturbances, only fears that it would escalate. From reading your precedents, all of them do have evidence that a racial disturbance did happen where the Defoe case does not. If you still plan on using these precedents, who decides on what could escalate to a ‘racial disturbance?’ I’m on the supreme court, so I do not have an actual set opinion, but it is something that you might want to consider.

        • That is a good point Olivia. I did find something that could help with the racial disturbance part. In the Melton vs. Young case, the court said that there didn’t actually have to be racial disturbance, there just had to be a forecast of disruption. Since there have been quite a few case where there have been racial disturbance over the confederate flag, the school in the Defoe case can rightfully presume that issues could a rise. There is already racial tension in the school, so it seems pretty likely. This could be a good argument against Defoe, because they will definitely bring up how there had been any disruption in the school.

    • The prosecution will probably argue that he was exercising his first amendment right but according to the tinker case the school is allowed to take measures to prevent a disruption of the learning environment. Also they’ll probably argue that there were only 25 black students in a school of 1100 but the group who persecuted the black students were also persecuting Mexicans and biracial students.

    • The prosecution will probably argue that Defoe was only exercising his first amendment rights but the tinker case says that the worn clothing cannot be disruptive to the learning environment. The schools as within its authority as the action as to prevent a future disruption. Also they might argue that there were only 25 black students which is not enough to cause a disturbance. However Mexicans and biracial students were being targeted as well

  2. Our group found some cases of racial disturbance at the Anderson Country High School (which is the school Defoe attended). One of them included a group of white students hanging the Confederate flag in the hallways of the school, just couple days after two black students started attending the school. It was said that they hung the flag there as a way of saying they didn’t like the idea of having black students attend their school. There were many other incidents of racial tension at the Anderson Country High School, which shows that having students wearing the Confederate flag would just add to that racial tension and cause disturbance and violence at the school. Our group also came up with a good point to make in our arguments. Allowing some students to wear the Confederate flag during school hours can make some students feel unsafe. Every student has the right to feel safe in their school, and because the Confederate flag is such a controversial symbol it can make others in the school feel unsafe.

    • For some people the confederate flag symbolizes a unique pride in southern history and lifestyle for others mostly african american offends then because it could remind them of slavery.
      Anderson county schools have a dress code which states that clothing and accessories such as backpacks, patches, jewelry, and notebooks must not display racial or ethnic slur or symbols. The confederate flag indeed is an ethnic symbol of the confederacy which can resemble slavery.

    • You both bring up good points. While it may be used to display pride in one’s Southern roots, it can be perceived as intolerance towards African Americans and (in some cases) possibly other races. The display of the flag in the hallway at Anderson County High School was obviously an insult to the newly-integrated African American students. It was also used frequently in racist graffiti. The most common use of the flag in this school was in racist messages, so the display of the Confederate flag has a insulting and prejudiced connotation among its students.

      • To add to that, as we learned in our class, there is a good chance Defoe was displaying his southern heritage by wearing the Confederate flag. However, it was a choice of his own morals to wear the Confederate flag, most likely knowing from past events at Anderson County High School that people would find it offensive. This is also proven when he wore the flag for the second time, after being asked to take it off the first.

  3. The confederate flag is a symbol of hatred because the flag can make racial slurs to come about, because confederates made black people slaves, which might make black people be reminded of slavery. Thinking of slavery in school might mess up the learning process because they would be thinking of slavery instead of learning in school.

    • I was with you until the end when you said that they would be thinking about slavery instead of learning. I don’t think it would make them think about slavey during school. I think it would put them down and make them a little depressed. And that depression can turn into anger. That is when it disrupts school. When they are depressed they don’t pay attention and don’t do well is school. But when that depression turns into anger, you have all out chaos.

  4. Even though the Confederate flag could symbolize heritage, people don’t always see a symbol the way it’s meant to be seen if it is controversial. It reminds some people of whites over powering blacks, and that leads to “racial smoke,” and the possibility of disruption in the learning community. The flag provides too much controversy to be seen in one un-negative way for everyone, and that is why it leads to disruption. It is still arguable though, as there has not been evidence of actual disruption, only “racial smoke.” Should we limit freedom of speech to prevent it from happening, or because it has happened?

    • Well, in our case, we haven’t heard anything about it disrupting school or impinging on the rights of the students. And also, the racial smoke is from other occurrences, not this one, and if they are going to decide to suddenly do something bout this case, I think that is wrong, the people who created the racial smoke should be suspended, not Defoe.

  5. I am a surprime court member and I would like to comment on something that the School did in the case that SHOULD have made them win. In our class, Defoe won and there were many reasons that they shouldn’t have won. First, the school made bad points in the fact that their arguments ended to flaws and deeper meanings that were not explained. Second, the school lawyers made better points about the other fights at the school and their precedents were stronger. Finally, the school had a much better rebuttal.

Leave a comment