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In the City of Chicago, shootings seem to be at an all time high. The rising controversy of the shootings of unarmed African Americans exists not only in the City of Chicago, but many major cities and urban areas. Widely public instances include the fatal shootings of Michael Brown of Ferguson, Trayvon Martin of Florida, and Philando Castile of Minneapolis. These and similar instances have sparked an abundance of protests and outcry from people throughout the nation. The Black Lives Matter movement was triggered to alert the public of the lack of value for African American lives across the nation.
After attending school with black hoodies and plastic buttons that said “BLACK LIVES MATTER” to bring attention to shootings of unarmed African Americans, students Margery Washington and David Schultz were suspended from Homewood High School of District 299 in the City of Chicago. Their suspension would continue until they returned to school in the proper uniform. They returned two days later in the proper uniform and proceeded with their parents, to file a lawsuit against District 299.
As a new Justice of the United States Supreme Court, I recognize this as not only an issue concerning the students’ rights and the United States Constitution but also brings up the topic of morals and beliefs. It is deemed a right as a citizen to consciously have an opinion of an event that is affecting one’s community and loved ones. They hold the right of freedom of speech as residents of the United States of America under the First Amendment. Although this case can be argued on terms of morality, as we are human beings, it can only be decided in court based on law and statutes. Basing rationale on anything but proper constitutional and legal analysis would be unlawful. It is my job to stand as a neutral party.
What should first be examined are the students’ reasons for suspension. They one, wore black hoodies with their hoods up and two, wore plastic buttons that said “BLACK LIVES MATTER” on the hoodies. We know they wore them to show support, and cannot necessarily assume that they went against the dress code of conduct to protest and get a rising out of the student body, teachers, and officials. There was no instance of outbursts from the students, pressing of views, spoken consultation, or behavior that would be deemed inappropriate by teachers and school officials. The two students were not causing an outburst, committing acts of violence, or creating any disturbance, unlike the case of Blackwell v. Issaquena County Board of Education, 1966 where the petitioners harassed students who did not wear freedom buttons. They did not gather, initiate or press anyone to listen to their views or beliefs but simply used a form of visual symbolism.
Although teachers and school officials hold the authority to enforce school and school district rules and policies, Justice Harlan previously determined, “state public school authorities, in the discharge of their responsibilities, are not wholly exempt from the requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment respecting the freedoms of expression and association” Tinker v. Des Moines, 1969. In the case of high school students, Washington and Schultz, the same ruling should be applied as the 1969 court case. If students have rights but are unable to exercise them whilst not causing a threat, harm or in the case of school attendance: disturbance to the learning environment, then those opposing a students right are not truly abiding to the Bill of Rights within the U.S. Constitution.
I have come to a final verdict and believe Sophomores of Homewood High School, Margery Washington and David Schultz, are under no fault. The students exercised their entailed constitutional right of freedom of speech in an appropriate manner, peacefully and with least disturbance as possible. I find the officials of District 299 guilty of wrongful suspension of both Washington and Schultz.
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