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Supreme Court Justices

Use this page to swap ideas between Brookwood and BGA as you anticipate the arguments that Defoe and the school will make.


  1. Hello BGA Supreme Court Justices! I have a few questions for you about how you view the Confederate Flag. Do you view it as a symbol for a deeper idea? Or do you just view it as a simple, rectangular piece of red cloth with blue crosses and stars going through it? If you do view it as a symbol, what kind of idea does it represent for you? Slavery? Hatred? Freedom? Heritage? If you view it as heritage, I’d really like to know what kind of heritage. Southern heritage, or family heritage, or anything else? Thanks!

    • Personally I see the confederate flag as just as you said a “rectangular piece of red cloth with a blue crosses and stars through it” but I can see how it would represent hatred and slavory.

    • I view it as a sign of freedom, because we fought for what we believed was right even if others didn’t believe in it too. Some people view it as signs of slavery and hatred, which is very understandable. That’s not what the true meaning is though and what it should be shaped around.

    • when i think about the confederate flag it reminds me of war and their beliefs towards slavery. i imagine the confederates and fighting for what they all believed in.

      • I understand your point, it makes so much sense. Yes the flag stands for the south fighting for what they believed in, but they believed in having slavery for the better of the confederacy. So the flag really has only one meaning and people are forgetting about the other half.

    • I have always seen the Confederate Flag as a symbol of hatred, slavery, and all the deaths during the Civil War. I know there are some people in the South who view it as “Southern Pride” but that definitely doesn’t apply to me.

    • I don’t really see it as my heritage since I didn’t really talk about or see the flag all that much until this year. Maybe I just didn’t get out much and I’m really weird, but that’s about the extent to which I know the flag. I’m pretty neutral to the flag, just to be honest.

    • To me the confederate flag is a symbol of heritage not racial discrimination. I had family members who died fighting for what they thought was right and I don’t mean slavery. Slavery is not right neither is segregation and as a southerner we accept what happened but we are not proud of that. Though we are proud of the courage and valor shown by our ancestors. So that is how I interpret the confederate flag as a symbol of heritage.

  2. My personal meaning of the the Confedrate Flag would be a symbol that symbolizes the south and the Confederates. When I see the Confederate Flag I imagine the Confedereates fighting for what they believed in which I definitely don’t agree with what they were fighting for, but I think it symbolizes a very brave, strong group of people because it takes a lot of courage to stand up for what you belive in and not let anyone take your personal opinion away from you whatever that may be. I realize it now means southern pride although I see it as a historical symbol that means much more.

  3. My views of the Confederate Flag are as follows: It is a symbol of the South, especially referring to the Civil War and the idea of slavery. They Confederates were a committed group of fighters who stood up for what they believed in, and that takes outstanding courage no matter who you are, North or South. Although I don’t support slavery and agree with the Confederates, I can certainly see how a Southerner would want to represent the valor that was taken on by the Confederates. It’s a strong statement to wear then and now, but I really don’t think this kid was trying to bring disruption to the school. If he meant to raise eyebrows and spark these little uprisings, then that’s a different story.

  4. I have another page about the first amendment and little paragraph http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/first_amendment
    The most basic component of freedom of expression is the right of freedom of speech. The right to freedom of speech allows individuals to express themselves without interference or constraint by the government. The Supreme Court requires the government to provide substantial justification for the interference with the right of free speech where it attempts to regulate the content of the speech. A less stringent test is applied for content-neutral legislation. The Supreme Court has also recognized that the government may prohibit some speech that may cause a breach of the peace or cause violence. For more on unprotected and less protected categories of speech see advocacy of illegal action, fighting words, commercial speech and obscenity. The right to free speech includes other mediums of expression that communicate a message. The level of protection speech receives also depends on the forum in which it takes place.

      • Based on what I have learned, symbolic speech is considered freedom of speech. For example: in the Tinker Case, Mary and John Tinker wore the black armbands that had peace signs and the court said that it represented pure freedom of speech. These peace signs were images that that represented freedom of speech. I think the question needing answering is the difference between these two cases (Defoe and Tinker).

  5. Hello BGA students, what will really decided who wins this case is the people who are more prepared and have a strong case. However, the facts will help, but if the case can not be expressed well then it won’t be as strong.

  6. I am from the south and I never saw or heard about the confederate flag until now. It never represented anything in my family heritage, I still don’t have a clear view of it. I don’t think that it has anything to do with my heritage, but I don’t know if it quite represents hatred. And I am excited to see what the lawyers have to say about it to sway our decisions.

  7. Hey BGA students! My opinion on the Confederate flag is not really hatred, I feel like it is more like heritage. But if kids wear it too school I do feel like it is not right because all people have different opinions on the Confederate flag.

        • Yeah somethings can be offensive even if someone doesn’t mean it to be. Keep in mind that all people have feelings and that those people also have somewhat or completely different perspectives than you do.

    • I agree with Dani, to me it doesn’t represent much of my heritage. But in the Defoe case that is what it represents to him, and I can agree with that. But some people feel very strongly about slavery and think that it is a strong symbol to the flag. I don’t want to sway their opinions because they can believe what they want and I respect that they believe in this very strongly. We all see things differently but this isn’t a debate that chooses which opinion is right, it’s about how it affects other peoples feelings around them when Defoe and others who might have worn the flag.

  8. Obviously, there are a lot of opinions on the confederate flag. We have repeated ourselves way to many times about what we think! What do you guys think the defoe lawyers will say?


      • The Defoe lawyers will argue that like in the Tinker case Defoe’s rights were taken from him while in school. Defoe had his rights taken from him when he was using his right of freedom of speech just like John and Mary Beth Tinker were using theirs by wearing black armbands to protest the Vietnam War. It would not make much sense for Defoe to lose his court case and the Tinkers to have won their case because both Defoe and the Tinkers were doing the same activity (using their freedom of speech), just expressing two different ideas.

      • I completely agree with Max. If I weren’t a judge but someone completely out of this exercise, I would say that Tom Defoe has all the right to wear what he wore.

    • I think the Defoe lawyers shouldn’t just bring up the Tinker case because the Tinker case could also hurt them in a way. They need to have other presendents in order to win.

  9. I don’t really think of the southern flag as either heritage or a hate symbol. It is really hard to try and pick a side because you can’t unless you have a bias. It really is an opinion. If there is a side that you favor it is really hard to understand both sides of the argument.

    • I think it is really important to keep in mind that you can’t discriminate against other peoples viewpoints. Mary Beth Tinker talks about it 14 minuets into the skype call. Does this mean that the school shouldn’t be able to discriminate against DeFoe’s view point?

  10. I think that the school will win because in the Defoe case, there had been previous violence towards people of color in the school. This means that the confederate flag that Defoe wore to school disrupted the school’s learning environment, so the teachers had the right to limit Tom Defoe’s free speech to restore the peace within the school.

    • I agree with you, and another factor need to consider is bias and personal opinions. I think that a lot of us in the north didn’t like the confederate flag before we learned about it, because we only knew it represented the civil war. Even now after we have learned about it, some of those opinions may have stayed with us. Which would generally lead us to the school’s side.

    • I agree with charlie. The confederate flag can sometimes make people uncomfortable or can distract people from learning which are a couple reasons why people might say that the school will win. Also, I think that the Defoe side could win because Defoe did use i=his first amendment rights at a public school which allows him to wear the belt.

  11. My personal bias is that Tom Defoe should have the right to wear any meaningful symbol that does not support any inaprropiate activties such as alcohol or drug use. Anyone should be able to have pride in something that they belive in.

    • I agree that you should be able to wear something that is meaningful to you, but I also think that school is a place to learn and if you have distractions like the confederate flag then you won’t be learning and that is the schools purpose. But then again there has to be proof and evidence that the confederate flag is causing problems.

  12. I believe that the confederate flag is an offensive symbol of slavery and organizations dedicated to white supremecy. Although some people who are not racist claim it to be their southern heritage, it still offends too many people to consider it not a disruption. the tension in the school makes wearing the flag a pefect oppertunity to let that tension spread to violence and predjudice. The TInker case was about protesting a war the US was not meant to be in. This is predjudice against a large portion of the American Population.

    • I agree that the confederate flag will cause violence and distribution in the school, but remember by taking away Defoe’s confederate flag belt buckle it would offend Defoe because it represents family heritage and southern pride to him.

  13. I believe that he should have worn the short because it might have been just a symbol of “southern pride”. Not attending for it to be racist. I have grown up seeing the confederate flag and to me it’s just another object in the wind. Many people see the flag in other ways but I see it as southern pride.

    • I also see it as a flag in the wind but to other people it means race, and other things other than southern pride. I think that if it is causing students to be distracted in class because of that then it’s not okay. Plus, there also has to evidence that the flag caused problems.

  14. I feel that he Confederate flag, doesn’t just represent 1 thing, like southern Heritage. To me the flag represents how people interpret it. So it really means different things to everyone.

  15. Some advice that I would have is to make sure that the lawyers have many precedents to back up their points. I would also recommend that the lawyers find out about the tinker standard, it would benefit the schools side the most. I would also recommend that the judges have good question that help clarify the lawyers points. That’s all I would have to say for advice, good luck!

  16. Some advice I would give is when considering who should win the case, look at both sides of the case. Like for my group, when it came to deciding who would win, was all for the school side and everyone had kind of already decided. Everyone was ready to just kind of drop it and was ready to vote with 20 minutes left. Then I decided the only fair thing to do was to look at the Defoe side as well because they had great points. Look at both sides no matter how weak their points may have been. You need to have an even opinion.

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