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Supreme Court Vacates Reinhardt Anti-Homosexual T-Shirt Decision:
Back on April 20, 2006, Eugene authored a post that began,
Sorry, Your Viewpoint Is Excluded from First Amendment Protection: That's what the Ninth Circuit holds today, as to student speech in K-12 schools, in a remarkable — and in my view deeply unsound — decision. (Harper v. Poway Unified School Dist.)
  Tyler Harper wore an anti-homosexuality T-shirt to school, apparently responding to a pro-gay-rights event put on at the school by the Gay-Straight Alliance at the school. On the front, the T-shirt said, "Be Ashamed, Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned," and on the back, it said "Homosexuality is Shameful." The principal insisted that Harper take off the T-shirt. Harper sued, claiming this violated his First Amendment rights.
  Harper's speech is constitutionally unprotected, the Ninth Circuit just ruled today, in an opinion written by Judge Reinhardt and joined by Judge Thomas; Judge Kozinski dissented. According to the majority, "derogatory and injurious remarks directed at students' minority status such as race, religion, and sexual orientation" — which essentially means expressions of viewpoints that are hostile to certain races, religions, and sexual orientations — are simply unprotected by the First Amendment in K-12 schools. Such speech, Judge Reinhardt said, violates "the rights of other students" by constituting a "verbal assault[] that may destroy the self-esteem of our most vulnerable teenagers and interfere with their educational development."
  But as so often happens with decisions by Judge Reinhardt, Reinhardt's word was not the last. Today the Supreme Court vacated Reinhardt's in an order that states in relevant part:
HARPER, TYLER C., ET AL. V. POWAY SCHOOL DISTRICT, ET AL.

. . . The district court . . . has now entered final judgment dismissing petitioner's claims for injunctive relief as moot [because Harper graduated from the school]. We have previously dismissed interlocutory appeals from the denials of motions for temporary injunctions once final judgment has been entered. See Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Co. v. Kuykendall, 265 U. S. 196, 205--206 (1924); Shaffer v. Carter, 252 U. S. 37, 44 (1920). In this case, vacatur of the prior judgment is also appropriate to "'clea[r] the path for future relitigation of the issues between the parties and [to] eliminat[e] a judgment, review of which was prevented through happenstance.' " Anderson v. Green, 513 U. S. 557, 560 (1995) (per curiam) (quoting United States v. Munsingwear, Inc., 340 U. S. 36, 40 (1950)) (alterations in original). The petition for a writ of certiorari is granted. The judgment is vacated and the case is remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit with instructions to dismiss the appeal as moot. See United States v. Munsingwear, Inc., supra. Reported below: 445 F. 3d 1166.

Justice Breyer dissents.
  What does it mean? It means that Judge Reinhardt's opinion has been "taken off the books," and the Ninth Circuit has been ordered not to issue any more opinions in the case. At the same time, the case is now over because the student graduated, so the Supreme Court won't be hearing the case. "Clear the path" indeed. Thanks to Howard for the links.

  UPDATE: Oops, I see that Eugene beat me to it while I was drafting this. I guess I'll keep this post up given that it offers more details, but if readers would rather I delete it just let me know. Also, I have updated the post for readers who don't know what it means to "vacate" a decision.
donaldk2 (mail):
Please indulge this non-lawyer. What is the 9th Circuit ordered to do that is not the same as what they did?

[OK comments: Donald K, vacating an opinion means taking it off the books and ordering that it no longer has precedential force. So the Supreme Court took the Ninth Circuit opinion off the books, and ordered them to not take any more action in the case.]
3.5.2007 11:29am
godfodder (mail):
"Free speech for me, but not for thee!" I'm actually not surprised by this. Isn't this precisely the point of creating all these specialized, "protected" groups of people? So that they can be treated differently?
3.5.2007 11:31am
godfodder (mail):
(I'm referring to the original Ninth Circuit decision.)
3.5.2007 11:33am
Steve:
This post is awfully misleading for any reader who doesn't understand the intricacies of the appellate process.

[OK Comments: Steve, it would be helpful for you to explain *why* you think that; it's harder for me to post an update or make a change if you decline to give a reason. I have made a guess based on the comment above and amended the post, but I'm not sure if you still think the post is "awfully misleading." If so, I hope you will articulate why so I can offer more helpful commentary in the future.]
3.5.2007 11:39am
Randy R. (mail):
Well, actually, the no. As far as I can tell, there were no litigants in this case who are gay, and so gay rights activists had no input on this case. (Unless they filed an amicus brief, but I don't know whether they did).

Although most gay groups condemn a student for wearing such a t-shirt, none have actually used the courts to force a decision such as this, at least not to my knowledge.

So, no. Gay activist groups have NOT said that they want gays treated differently, but rather be treated the same. You should direct your anger towards the school administrator who disciplined the t-shirt wearer.
3.5.2007 11:40am
markm (mail):
What does this mean?

The district court, however, has now entered final judgment dismissing petitioner's claims for injunctive relief as moot. We have previously dismissed interlocutory appeals from the denials of motions for temporary injunctions once final judgment has been entered. See Pacific Telephone &Telegraph Co. v. Kuykendall, 265 U. S. 196, 205--206 (1924); Shaffer v. Carter, 252 U. S. 37, 44 (1920). In this case, vacatur of the prior judgment is also appropriate to " 'clea[r] the path for future relitigation of the issues between the parties and [to] eliminat[e] a judgment, review of which was prevented through happenstance.'

I don't see where the kid got the right to wear the shirt. Was the case dropped, is it headed back to the lower courts after being dismissed for some technicality, or what?
3.5.2007 11:50am
donaldk2 (mail):
OK: Thank you. One more, if you will. What issues are being presented to the Supreme Court? (A) Is it whether the District Court erred in not issuing a preliminary injuction?
(I always supposed that a prel. inj. required irreparable damage.) Am I missing something?

If (A) is the case, what happens next if the S.C. rules in favor of Harper?
3.5.2007 11:56am
OrinKerr:
donaldk2,

The case is over. The Supreme Court isn't agreeing to hear it to issue an opinion: They took the Ninth Circuit decision off the books and sent it back.
3.5.2007 11:58am
godfodder (mail):
Randy:
First of all, I am not angry. Just curious.

It seems clear to me that the point of the first decision was to forbid criticism of homosexuality. If that was not its intent, what was it intended to do?

Now, I could see schools banning all political speech in their halls (less conflict, less distractions), but if they allow one side of an issue to "speak" then they should let the other side too. You and I don't have to agree with the view points expressed, but the school should have recognized that there was going to be a diversity of opinions on the topic of homosexual highschoolers. It seems strikingly naive for them to initiate a conversation about a controversial topic, then seek to silence one side of the debate.
3.5.2007 11:58am
Steve:
Steve, it would be helpful for you to explain *why* you think that; it's harder for me to post an update or make a change if you decline to give a reason.

Sorry about that. The point is that the post (particularly the "as happens so often" sentence) leaves the impression that Judge Reinhardt, that old pinko, got reversed again. I think you either need to make the case that vacatur of the Court of Appeals decision is unusual in this type of situation, and thus the Court appears to be "sending a message," or else clarify that this doesn't necessarily indicate disapproval by the Supremes of the Court of Appeals' decision.
3.5.2007 12:03pm
anonVCfan:
donaldk2, the Supreme Court is not going to do anything further. The school appealed ("petitioned for certiorari), and the Supreme Court said that the case couldn't go any further because it was moot. As a housekeeping matter, it ordered the Ninth Circuit decision taken off of the books.


Other than donaldk2's good questions, I wonder what purpose is served by opening comments on this post. Predictably, I think, most comments will either be along the lines of "good for Eugene" or "Reinhardt sucks."

The best substantive arguments for and against the Ninth Circuit's decision, in my view, have already been aired in the competing Ninth Circuit opinions below. Judge Reinhardt has a more narrow view of Tinker than Judge Kozinski does, and he focuses on the statement in Tinker that "There is here no evidence whatever of petitioners' interference, actual or nascent, with the schools' work or of collision with the rights of other students to be secure and to be let alone. Accordingly, this case does not concern speech or action that intrudes upon the work of the schools or the rights of other students."

My sympathies are with Kozinski, but Reinhardt puts out strong arguments the other way. For anyone interested in the issues in this case, I'd suggest reading the opinions below.

En banc order here.

Panel opinion here.
3.5.2007 12:05pm
MikeRT (mail) (www):
Here's a thought experiment. Wear a t-shirt in public, especially at a school, defending the right of pedophiles and beastophiles (whatever they're called) to get it on without the law breaking down their door. I bet you it won't be defended by the system, even though biologically (not morally) it makes sense for a grown man to be sexually attracted to a well-developed pubescent girl regardless of age.

Of course, I would expect a court (or its defenders) that can find such a tortured exception to the first amendment to understand my argument.
3.5.2007 12:08pm
MikeRT (mail) (www):
That should be "wouldn't expect."
3.5.2007 12:09pm
Bobbie (mail):
Did Breyer issue a written dissent?
3.5.2007 12:15pm
Steve:
What happened here, in a real-world sense, is that the student graduated high school in Spring 2006. This rendered his claims for injunctive relief moot because, even if a court were to order that he has the right to wear the t-shirt to school, it would be pointless since he's not in school any more. (He can't get money damages, even if his rights were violated, because the relevant officials have governmental immunity.) While such a decision might be helpful to other, similarly situated parties, the Constitution requires a live "case or controversy" for the federal courts to adjudicate it.
3.5.2007 12:19pm
anonVCfan:
Bobbie, the disposition of the case is contained entirely in the Orders List. Amid the scores of denials of cert is the following:



HARPER, TYLER C., ET AL. V. POWAY SCHOOL DISTRICT, ET AL. The motion of Kelsie J. Harper for leave to intervene is
denied. Petitioner seeks review of the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's motion for a preliminary injunction. The district court, however, has now entered final judgment dismissing petitioner's claims for injunctive relief as moot. We have previously dismissed interlocutory appeals from the denials of motions for temporary injunctions once final judgment has been entered. See Pacific Telephone &Telegraph Co. v. Kuykendall, 265 U. S. 196, 205--206 (1924); Shaffer v. Carter, 252 U. S. 37, 44 (1920). In this case, vacatur of the prior judgment is also appropriate to " 'clea[r] the path for future relitigation of the issues between the parties and [to] eliminat[e] a judgment, review of which was prevented through happenstance.' " Anderson v. Green, 513 U. S. 557, 560 (1995) (per curiam) (quoting United States v. Munsingwear, Inc., 340 U. S. 36, 40 (1950)) (alterations in original). The petition for a writ of certiorari is granted. The judgment is vacated and the case is remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit with instructions to dismiss the appeal as moot. See United States v. Munsingwear, Inc., supra. Reported below: 445 F. 3d 1166.
Justice Breyer dissents.


emphasis added.
3.5.2007 12:22pm
HLSbertarian (mail):
Steve's right. The boy graduated, and the court declined to allow his younger sister to join the case to save it from mootness.
3.5.2007 12:29pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
Given that decision and the one from the 6th Circuit allowing the student to wear an anti-Bush shirt (a correct decision I might add) I always wondered what a court would say of a kid wore a shirt to school that said "Bush is a f***ing [insert Ann Coulter's insult to John Edwards here]."
3.5.2007 12:34pm
gasman (mail):

"derogatory and injurious remarks directed at students' minority status such as race, religion, and sexual orientation"

Tyrany of the minority?
So the minority groups can make "derogatory and injurious remarks" directed at students of the majority but not the other way around.
As a white male (now just 30% of the population) where do I sign up for my minority status. To paraphrase the movie The Incredibles, Once everyone is special, then no one is special.
3.5.2007 12:45pm
DrGrishka (mail):
Orrin,

From what I understand, the case is still ongoing. Mr. Harper graduated, so the case is moot as to him (at least with respect to an injunction). However, his sister is still in that school, and she is maintaining her action on a permanent injuction.

So the value of SCOTUS' decision is that Reinhardt's opinion is no longer precedential in deciding the issues in Miss Harper's case.
3.5.2007 12:51pm
Steve:
PACER tells me the sister's claims were actually dismissed on 1/22/07. However, since the Court relied on the Ninth Circuit's decision (as well as its own prior decision) as law of the case, there seems to be an interesting procedural issue. If mootness as to the brother means that the decision dismissing his claims is no longer law of the case, it effectively means the sister gets to take a second bite at the apple merely by waiting around until her brother's case becomes moot.
3.5.2007 1:06pm
AF:
I think you either need to make the case that vacatur of the Court of Appeals decision is unusual in this type of situation, and thus the Court appears to be "sending a message," or else clarify that this doesn't necessarily indicate disapproval by the Supremes of the Court of Appeals' decision.

It's pretty close to self-evident that the Court could have simply denied cert, or dismissed the petition for cert as moot, rather than vacate the Ninth Circuit's decision. The only plausible reason it did so is to indicate disapproval.
3.5.2007 1:11pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
MikeRT: "Wear a t-shirt in public, especially at a school, defending the right of pedophiles . . . biologically (not morally) it makes sense for a grown man to be sexually attracted to a well-developed pubescent girl regardless of age."

I don't think you understand the word pedophileentirely.
3.5.2007 1:17pm
DaveN (mail):
I think DrGrishka got it right in explaining what the order is all about.

As part of the common law tradition, the Ninth Circuit (like the others) has a rule that one 3-judge panel cannot overrule another 3-judge panel, even if all members of the new 3-judge panel disagree with the original panel's reasoning.

Additionally districtjudges must follow Circuit precedent unless there is contrary Supreme Court precedent.

What this effectively means is that if a similar case is filed in federal court and ultimately reaches the Ninth Circuit, neither the distict court nor a new 9th Circuit panel is bound by Judge Reinhardt's decision.

I realize that this is elementary to the lawyers who read this bleg--but there are some very intelligent non-lawyers who also read it--and I hope this explanation is helpful.
3.5.2007 1:17pm
DrGrishka (mail):
Steve,

Good catch. However, even if Miss Harper does not get to reopen the case at the district court level, she of course can still appeal to the Ninth Circuit. The question is whether she will get the same panel, and if not to what extent the new panel will feel bound by the now vacated decision.

The line that vacatur was needed to "'clea[r] the path for future relitigation of the issues between the parties," must mean something.
3.5.2007 1:19pm
Arvin (mail) (www):
Re: mootness and live controversies: doesn't SCOTUS have a long history of taking cases where the existing controversy is dead, but it is something that is capable of being repeated? Does anyone really think SCOTUS couldn't have taken this case on the merits if it had wanted to?
3.5.2007 1:25pm
DaveN (mail):
Oh--and to be very clear, I read it as both EV and Orin Kerr do (as well as several other posters, including most recently, AF do)--this was a "friendly" warning shot fired across the Ninth Circuit's bow "suggesting" that they there may be fault with Judge Reinhardt's reasoning.
3.5.2007 1:26pm
DaveN (mail):
Arvin, my understanding of the "capable of repeating and evading review" doctrine to avoid mootness has been used primarily when the temporal life of a case in controversy is such that NO case will ever reach the Supreme Court because all similarly situated cases will become moot before reaching the Supreme Court.
3.5.2007 1:29pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Plus it's a prudential rule, so they don't HAVE to make an exception if they'd rather not. I agree that they probably could have gotten around the mootness issue, but they can do pretty much whatever they want, can't they?
3.5.2007 1:36pm
Steve:
It's pretty close to self-evident that the Court could have simply denied cert, or dismissed the petition for cert as moot, rather than vacate the Ninth Circuit's decision.

Of course it's self-evident that they had the power to do any of those things. The open question is how often the Supreme Court takes action of the type seen in this order, not whether there are alternatives available.
3.5.2007 2:34pm
aces:
I'm a little confused by the sister's attempt to step in for her brother. Assuming she wasn't also disciplined for wearing an offensive T-shirt, where would she get standing to sue?
3.5.2007 3:06pm
John Herbison (mail):
As I understand the Supreme Court's order, the claim for permanent injunctive relief had been dismissed by the District Court, rendering moot the interlocutory appeal from the District Court's denial of preliminary injunctive relief. According to the Ninth Circuit opinion, Mr. Harper also sued for damages--a claim dismissed by the District Court as to the individual defendants based on qualified immunity. (Unlike a claim for injunctive relief, a claim for monetary damages ordinarily does not become moot.)

This is speulation here on my part, but under Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194 (2001), a district court considering a claim of qualified immunity must initially consider whether the facts, taken in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, indicate that the plaintiff's constitutional rights have been violated. Only if that question is answered in the affirmative does the court consider whether the "countours of the right" were "clearly established" according to decisional law extant at the time of the alleged violation.

Without having seen the District Court's opinion, I wonder whether the fact that the District Court reached the qualified immunity question presupposes that Mr. Harper's First Amendment rights were in fact violated.
3.5.2007 3:09pm
Cornellian (mail):
This post is awfully misleading for any reader who doesn't understand the intricacies of the appellate process.

The post seemed perfectly clear to me. I can see why it would be hard to understand by someone not familiar with civil procedure but that doesn't make it misleading. To explain it all in layman's terms would have taken 3 times the space.
3.5.2007 3:30pm
Randy R. (mail):
godfodder: You and I don't have to agree with the view points expressed, but the school should have recognized that there was going to be a diversity of opinions on the topic of homosexual highschoolers.

I agree. My point was that at least in this case, don't blame gays for this, blame the administrator who censored the t-shirt wearing student.
3.5.2007 4:47pm
Randy R. (mail):
Although there is another point: You say that there is a diverstiy of opinions on the topic of homosexual highschoolers.

I'm not sure that's that exactly what you meant, is it? Is there a diversity of opinions on black highschooolers, or hispanic, or disabled, or rich highschoolers? If there is (and there might very well be) then there might be a code of behavior that the school could enforce that would require that all students respect each other. If there is, than that student may have violated such a code (although there is no evidence in this case. I'm just theorizing).

The bottom line is education. All students need to learn to respect each other, despite our differences. Perhaps if the student had learned that, he could have channelled his energies into a more acceptable outlet.
3.5.2007 4:53pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

The bottom line is education. All students need to learn to respect each other, despite our differences. Perhaps if the student had learned that, he could have channelled his energies into a more acceptable outlet.
Yes, the bottom line is education. If the school had focused on what 95% of parents want the schools to do, instead of engaging in pro-homosexual propaganda, Harper would have had no reason to wear that T-shirt, and the school could have taken a viewpoint neutral position that no political commentary is allowed on clothing.

But thank you for showing your liberal interest in censorship.

Randy R. so often demonstrates that the choice for a society seems to be homosexuality or civil liberties--you don't seem to get the choice of both.
3.5.2007 5:10pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Randy R. writes:


I agree. My point was that at least in this case, don't blame gays for this, blame the administrator who censored the t-shirt wearing student.
If homosexuals weren't so intent on suppressing alternate points of view, would the school administrator have been in such a hurry to shut Harper up?
3.5.2007 5:12pm
Colin (mail):
Randy R. so often demonstrates that the choice for a society seems to be homosexuality or civil liberties--you don't seem to get the choice of both.

Vintage Cramer.

Where, by the way, did Randy R. support the administrator's decision? I don't see that in any of his comments.
3.5.2007 5:17pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

What happened here, in a real-world sense, is that the student graduated high school in Spring 2006. This rendered his claims for injunctive relief moot because, even if a court were to order that he has the right to wear the t-shirt to school, it would be pointless since he's not in school any more.
I've read that this was one reason why case after case challenging abortion laws before Roe v. Wade never made it to the Supreme Court--that by the time it had worked its way up the ladder, the woman had given birth, and the Court could say, "Oh well, the question is now moot, we don't have to look at it." This certainly can be used by liberals to suppress free speech as long as the federal courts take so long to hear a case like this.
3.5.2007 5:17pm
Cornellian (mail):
I've read that this was one reason why case after case challenging abortion laws before Roe v. Wade never made it to the Supreme Court--that by the time it had worked its way up the ladder, the woman had given birth, and the Court could say, "Oh well, the question is now moot, we don't have to look at it." This certainly can be used by liberals to suppress free speech as long as the federal courts take so long to hear a case like this.

Spoken like a card-carrying member of the Hewitt "true believer" club. Note that the law of mootness will have the same effect on challenges to abortion bans.
3.5.2007 5:27pm
Randy R. (mail):
Clayton, I came down on the side of NOT censoring the t-shirt wearing student. What part of that posting didn't you understand? I also said I AGREED with godfodder on this point.
3.5.2007 5:32pm
chris s (mail):
it is too bad the S Ct couldn't hear the case (though I understand why doing so would have been silly given Harper's graduation). Tinker should be shorn back. public schools seem hard pressed enough to teach without worrying that keeping obnoxious kids in line will trigger some time consuming budget draining lawsuit. (I tend to doubt Harper truly was engaging in a good faith exchange of ideas, as opposed to trying to piss on the PC parade at school. a laudable instinct in certain measure, but not at the expense of disrupting the school day.)

that said, the language in Reinhardt's original decision suggesting that there is a consitutional difference between denigrating members of minority groups and those in majority groups is orwellian, would be unworkable and inflammatory in practice, and has zero constitutional basis. It would be a neat formula for building inter-group hostilities, though.
3.5.2007 5:56pm
Steve:
This certainly can be used by liberals to suppress free speech as long as the federal courts take so long to hear a case like this.

I don't understand this comment at all. Regardless, it bears noting that the federal courts decided this case in a matter of a few months. The only reason it dragged on for months and months is because the student appealed and appealed and appealed, going so far as to add his little sister as a party plaintiff to try and get around the court's ruling.

You can have all kinds of toxic tort cases where the plaintiff is dead or seriously injured, and the usual suspects will all show up to scream about frivolous litigation. Heck, let's take the ideological flip side of this case - the guy who took the Pledge of Allegiance case all the way to the Supreme Court - and you can find any number of people complaining about how ridiculous it is that your tax dollars had to be spent fighting this crank. Yet, were the taxpayers represented pro bono while this kid and whatever interest group financed his legal expenses spent years and years fighting for the right to wear a t-shirt? You won't find a single comment along those lines in this thread.
3.5.2007 6:04pm
jdkjr:
chris s

I know Chase and the Harper family. He was not "trying to piss on the PC parade at school" and was in fact "engaging in a good faith exchange of ideas". The facts of the case support this:

At the end of the interview , [Principal Scott] Fisher commended Chase for being courteous and respectful. App. 151a. Mr. Fisher informed him that although his punishment would be mitigated because of his courtesy and respect, Chase would still be suspended from school.


Chase is a good kid. He has his convictions, and was trying to respectfully partake in the discourse instigated by the school (when they officially sanctioned a "day of silence" in support of homosexual awareness).
3.5.2007 7:08pm
jdkjr:
For clarification, Tyler Chase Harper goes by the name Chase.
3.5.2007 7:11pm
Smallholder (mail) (www):
As a non-lawyer, I have a question about Tinker v. Des Moines and Hazel v. Kuhlmeier. If Tinker says that inside school speech likely to cause disruption may be limited and Hazel extends the power of school administrators to make speech limitations based on educational purposes, wouldn't limiting speech likely to cause disruption be within the power of the school administration?

I have worked in schools where we asked children to change out of T-shirts from the "Big Johnson" genre on the ground that it creates a poor atmosphere for young ladies viewing the shirts, "Porn star" t-shirts on the grounds that it may distract the young men, and pro-marijuana shirts because educators believe that drugs ought not to be part of the school environment. I also recall that a young man's pro-crime, anti-cop "Snitches get stitches" t-shirt being banned. We also banned t-shirt and bandannas affiliated with gangs.

If those were constitutionally sanctioned government limits on speech (though perhaps they weren't), I would think that the only question about the anti-homosexual t-shirt would be whether it was likely to cause disruption.

Aside from the impact on (largely closeted) homosexual students, I suspect that many liberal kids would take vociferous objection to the content of the shirt, which would lead to disruptions in every class period. I can guarantee that in my AP US history classes, even if I tried to turn t he discussion towards constitutional limits and free speech, there would be harsh, angry words exchanged. One suspects that the t-shirt wearer was hoping to provoke such confrontation. If it indeed would cause disruption, why couldn't the administration ask the student to change shirts?
3.5.2007 7:19pm
southernwood7 (mail):
I haven't had time to read everything here carefully, but I do note that quite a few posters seem to interpret the school's actions as being motivated by bias in favor of homosexuality and/or as being "censorship".

I have to ask whether there is a legal supposition that a public school will be a fully open public forum, with the same (hopefully) stringent standards for imposing any limitations on free speech as are expected in the larger public realm. I suspect not, but don't know. I'm absolutely sure that some of the folks here *do* know, so I'm asking.

I suspect that there is some kind of overriding interest of school officials in promoting a good learning environment for all students. That might include (I speculate) suppressing speech which could reasonably be construed as attacking the identity of some students or being excessively disruptive/disrespectful in some way.

If this is the case, a t-shirt alleging "Bush is a terrorist" would not be banned to protect Bush from feeling personally put-upon (since he's not a student there), but might be banned as excessively inflammatory and therefore likely to be disruptive to the learning environment. (I used this example because some posters above seemed to see the banning of the anti-gay shirt as part of a pro-gay agenda.) On the other hand, a similar sentiment expressed in a way more likely to promote discussion than a yelling match *might* be allowed. If I'm right about this. Which I'm hoping the more legally informed here will fill me in on.
3.5.2007 7:28pm
jvarisco (www):
If the court had wanted could they have issued an opinion? Being that high school students don't stay in school that long, how could one hope to actually sustain a challenge all the way to the court?
3.5.2007 7:34pm
Oren:
"Capable of repetition yet evading review" springs to mind.

Anyone else want to read the tea-leaves wrt to "bong hits 4 jesus"?
3.5.2007 7:40pm
John Herbison (mail):
Many posters appear not to have gotten past the "ick factor" that many associate with sexual conduct. The Supreme Court's action today is not a decision on the merits; indeed, the order to dismiss the appeal affirmatively precludes reaching the merits in this case, in that the controversy is no longer live.

It is important to recognize what the Court did not decide. This is not a ruling about homosexuality; neither is it a ruling about censorship. Let's consider another case in a comparable procedural posture (so as to avoid the heebie-jeebies that thougts of s-e-x create among those who obsess about who sticks what into whom and where).

In 1971 Marco DeFunis, Jr., a caucasian, applied for admission as a first-year student at the University of Washington Law School, a state-operated institution. The size of the incoming first-year class was to be limited to 150 persons, and the Law School received some 1,600 applications for these 150 places. DeFunis was eventually notified that he had been denied admission. He thereupon filed suit in a Washington trial court, contending that the procedures and criteria employed by the Law School Admissions Committee invidiously discriminated against him on account of his race in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

DeFunis asked the trial court to issue a mandatory injunction commanding the law school to admit him as a member of the first-year class entering in September 1971, on the ground that the Law School admissions policy had resulted in the unconstitutional (race based) denial of his application for admission. The trial court agreed with his claim and granted the requested relief. DeFunis was, accordingly, admitted to the Law School and began his legal studies there in the fall of 1971. On appeal, the Washington Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court and held that the Law School admissions policy did not violate the Constitution. By this time DeFunis was in his second year at the Law School.

DeFunis then petitioned the U. S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, and Justice William Douglas, as Circuit Justice, stayed the judgment of the Washington Supreme Court pending the "final disposition of the case by this Court." By virtue of this stay, DeFunis remained in law school, and was in the first term of his third and final year when the Supreme Court first considered his certiorari petition in the fall of 1973. The respondents indicated that, if the decision of the Washington Supreme Court were permitted to stand, Mr. DeFunis could complete the term for which he was then enrolled but would have to apply to the faculty for permission to continue in the school before he could register for another term.

The Supreme Court granted certiorari, and the case was orally argued on February 26, 1974, at which time DeFunis was in his final quarter of law school. In a decision filed April 24, 1974, the Supreme Court found that the case had become moot, in that reaching the merits of the case would not produce any result different from what would occur in the absence of a decision:


"The respondents have represented that, without regard to the ultimate resolution of the issues in this case, DeFunis will remain a student in the Law School for the duration of any term in which he has already enrolled. Since he has now registered for his final term, it is evident that he will be given an opportunity to complete all academic and other requirements for graduation, and, if he does so, will receive his diploma regardless of any decision this Court might reach on the merits of this case. In short, all parties agree that DeFunis is now entitled to complete his legal studies at the University of Washington and to receive his degree from that institution. A determination by this Court of the legal issues tendered by the parties is no longer necessary to compel that result, and could not serve to prevent it. DeFunis did not cast his suit as a class action, and the only remedy he requested was an injunction commanding his admission to the Law School. He was not only accorded that remedy, but he now has also been irrevocably admitted to the final term of the final year of the Law School course. The controversy between the parties has thus clearly ceased to be 'definite and concrete' and no longer 'touch[es] the legal relations of parties having adverse legal interests.'"

DeFunis v. Odegaard, 416 U.S. 312, 316-17, 94 S.Ct. 1704, 40 L.Ed.2d 164 (1974). The Supreme Court accordingly declined to rule on whether so-called "reverse discrimination", which disfavored white persons, violates Equal Protection guaranties, which even in those pre-Baake days was quite the hot issue.

In Lawrence v. Texas, Justice Scalia famously fulminated "that the Court has taken sides in the culture war". 539 U.S. 558, 602 (2003). Today's ruling is not one of taking sides; it is instead a determination that, irrespective of whether he was right or wrong, Tyler Harper had left the battlefield.
3.5.2007 8:26pm
Randy R. (mail):
JDKJR: Chase is a good kid. He has his convictions, and was trying to respectfully partake in the discourse instigated by the school (when they officially sanctioned a "day of silence" in support of homosexual awareness."

Really? This is his (and your) idea of being respectful:

"Be Ashamed, Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned," and on the back, it said "Homosexuality is Shameful."

If it was MLK Day during Black History Awareness month, and he wore a T-shirt that said Be Ashamed etc., would you think that is being respectful? I hardly think so. In fact, I can hardly think of anything more inflammatory. Furthermore, the Day of Silence that schools engage in is to teach everyone about the discrimination often faced by gay students. I can think of a dozen ways that Chase could have pursued that would actually have been respectful. How about joining the Gay-Straight Alliance and raising his issues there, for instance? But then, he might actually have to meet gay students and find out that they are actually not evil.
3.5.2007 9:20pm
Daniel Holmes:
To turn Randy's point around, why is it not inflamatory for the school to promote something that tells this student essentially "The God that you believe is full of bunk"? How does that make the school respectful towards this student?
3.5.2007 10:24pm
Ramza:
jdkjr
<blockquote>
Chase is a good kid. He has his convictions, and was trying to respectfully partake in the discourse instigated by the school (when they officially sanctioned a "day of silence" in support of homosexual awareness).
</blockquote>
It is very possible Chase is a good kid, I don't know him so I will take your word on his character. Regardless I wouldn't call his choice of words a "respectful partake in the discourse"

I am quoting from the
<i>The San Diego Union-Tribune,
Title:Poway student's request rejected; U.S. court rules in anti-gay case.
<blockquote>
During the 2004 observance, Harper wore a black T-shirt on which he wrote in bold, capital letters: "I will not accept what God has condemned" and "Homosexuality is shameful `Romans 1:27' " on the back.

Nothing unusual happened.

He wore the shirt again the next day, changing the wording on the front to "Be ashamed, our school embraced what God has condemned."

That time, he was pulled out of class, told he could only return if he took off the shirt, and when he didn't, was ordered to spend the day in the school office. He was not suspended.</i>
</blockquote>
I have no problem with Chase did, he has the freedom to make such speech. Regardless I <b>would argue</b> his second day's message "Be ashamed, our school embraced what God has condemed" is <b>not "repsectful."</b>

Perhaps Chase made an error of judgement of what most people would consider respectful. It happens to all of us, especially teenagers. Perhaps Chase was trying to make a point he deeply believes that wasn't respectful. Even if it is the second option, that doesn't negate the possibility he is a good kid, for "being disrespectful" and a "good kid" are not mutually exclusive.
3.5.2007 10:41pm
Solid State (mail):
Randy,

It's hard to believe your suggestion that Chase join the Gay-Straight Alliance in order to "raise his issue" is even slightly motivated by interest in seeing his viewpoint expressed. Why don't you just say that you believe what he said was hurtful and wrong, and you don't think he should be allowed to say it in school? This faux concern for his ability to air his grievances is transparent.

It's like suggesting that you are required to give Ann Coulter space to reply on your website in order to have the right to criticize her. If you think someone's behavior is shameful and wrong, you are not required to endorse or enable it prior to criticism. Do you really think there would be a fruitful discussion in the G-S Alliance with someone who believed that God's specific direction rendered homosexuality immoral? You've gotta be pulling my leg.

Frankly, I think Chase's comments were hurtful and wrong - and it is hard to dismiss sadism as a component of his behavior. However, (1) the school should not have had a "day of silence" in the first place - remember, this is a public school and it was no more appropriate to introduce secular moral elite orthodoxy than introduce prayer, and (2) once they opened the can of worms, they should have provided space for those who opposed homosexuality to express themselves.
3.5.2007 10:42pm
Ramza:
jdkjr

Chase is a good kid. He has his convictions, and was trying to respectfully partake in the discourse instigated by the school (when they officially sanctioned a "day of silence" in support of homosexual awareness).

It is very possible Chase is a good kid, I don't know him so I will take your word on his character. Regardless I wouldn't call his choice of words a "respectful partake in the discourse"

I am quoting from the
The San Diego Union-Tribune,
Title:Poway student's request rejected; U.S. court rules in anti-gay case.


During the 2004 observance, Harper wore a black T-shirt on which he wrote in bold, capital letters: "I will not accept what God has condemned" and "Homosexuality is shameful `Romans 1:27' " on the back.

Nothing unusual happened.

He wore the shirt again the next day, changing the wording on the front to "Be ashamed, our school embraced what God has condemned."

That time, he was pulled out of class, told he could only return if he took off the shirt, and when he didn't, was ordered to spend the day in the school office. He was not suspended.


I have no problem with Chase did, he has the freedom to make such speech. Regardless I would argue his second day's message "Be ashamed, our school embraced what God has condemed" is not "repsectful."

Perhaps Chase made an error of judgement of what most people would consider respectful. It happens to all of us, especially teenagers. Perhaps Chase was trying to make a point he deeply believes that wasn't respectful. Even if it is the second option, that doesn't negate the possibility he is a good kid, for "being disrespectful" and a "good kid" are not mutually exclusive.
3.5.2007 10:43pm
Malvolio:
Perhaps Chase made an error of [judgment] of what most people would consider respectful.
Perhaps, but that is clearly the wrong standard (if only because it is so subjective). The standard in Tinker was "disruptive" and he was nowhere near there.
3.5.2007 11:46pm
Randy R. (mail):
Solid State: Why don't you just say that you believe what he said was hurtful and wrong, and you don't think he should be allowed to say it in school?"

Why not? Because what I believe is that what he wrote was NOT respectful, but that it could be allowed in school. As you will note from my previous posts, I support his right to wear the t-shirt. Just as I would support the right of a student to wear a t-shirt that says "The God that you believe is full of bunk."

"Do you really think there would be a fruitful discussion in the G-S Alliance with someone who believed that God's specific direction rendered homosexuality immoral?"

I have no idea. Maybe yes, maybe no. But it is a start. And it is also one of the reasons Gay Striaght Alliances exist at all. Where else do you suggest that a meaningful dialogue begin?

"Frankly, I think Chase's comments were hurtful and wrong - and it is hard to dismiss sadism as a component of his behavior."

I agree. That's why I'm skeptical of the claim that he is a 'good kid.'

"However, (1) the school should not have had a "day of silence" in the first place - remember, this is a public school and it was no more appropriate to introduce secular moral elite orthodoxy than introduce prayer."

Why not? Having a Day of Silence by itself doesn't mean that the school is teaching a secular moral othodoxy -- it more often is a means to teach the fact that gay people are condemned by large parts of our society even today, something that everyone here can certainly agree is the truth. Often, too, these Days are student initiated. Don't know if that's true at this school, but it often is, and doesn't even involve administrators. In fact, there was a case recently when a student refused to speak during a Day of Silence and was sent home as a disciplinary action.

"(2) once they opened the can of worms, they should have provided space for those who opposed homosexuality to express themselves."

The problem is that you cannot separate homosexuality from homosexuals. If you oppose homosexuality, then you are condemning gay people. Perhaps one good that can come out of this is the fact that gay people do not choose to be gay -- they just are. And this fact is contrary to a lot of people's beliefs. Well, evolution is also contrary to many people's beliefs, but it hardly makes it true.
3.6.2007 12:11am
Randy R. (mail):
Part of this problem is an assumption that the school is somehow, through its Day of Silence, 'promoting' homosexuality. As a gay man, I certainly know that there is no such thing. No gay person goes around trying to recruit another a straight person into gayhood. We know what we are born that way, and that a certain percentage of the population is gay, and another percentage is straight. Promote all you like, but you don't alter those percentages one bit.

What gay people DO want, however, is for the harassement to stop. If you are a gay student, you should be left alone, and should be treated as any other student. This is what the Day of Silences are trying to convey.

So this kid Chase may be a nice kid, and he may have strongly held beliefs, but at root of his belief is the idea that gays are gay because they choose it. So he wears a t-shirt to express his disapproval of it. That's fine, but what is he really trying to accomplish here? Is it that gay kids should try to turn straight? No, because that can't happen. So the more likely reason is he wants societal condemnation of gays, possibly even overt discrimination. (That would be consistent with many religious viewpoints).

in my opinion, and that of every other mental health professional, that would be wrong for students, and counterproductive. It would be like wearing a t-shirt saying Black is Bad (and not in a good way!). Or that God condemns all Black people,. What possible purpose could such a t-shirt have except as a call to discriminate against blacks?
3.6.2007 12:18am
Ramza:

Perhaps, but that is clearly the wrong standard (if only because it is so subjective). The standard in Tinker was "disruptive" and he was nowhere near there.

I wasn't arguing a legal definition of respect, but instead the common man definition. My comment was not legal related. It was in response to a person who said this. I disagree with his opinion.

jdkjr:
Chase is a good kid. He has his convictions, and was trying to respectfully partake in the discourse instigated by the school (when they officially sanctioned a "day of silence" in support of homosexual awareness).

Whether what chase did was legal is completely seperate from whether it was respectful.
3.6.2007 12:19am
Ken Arromdee:
If it was MLK Day during Black History Awareness month, and he wore a T-shirt that said Be Ashamed etc., would you think that is being respectful?

Why not? I can think of a lot of things to be ashamed of MLK for. For instance, he was heavily pro-North-Vietnam and anti-capitalism If you think that Communism should not have prevailed, couldn't you wear a shirt saying that one should be ashamed of MLK? What if you disagree with his stance of $50 billion for slavery reparations? How in the world can you express disapproval of him without saying something to the effect of "be ashamed"?
3.6.2007 12:26am
Cornellian (mail):
I wonder what the outcome would have been if he'd worn a T-Shirt stating "Jews don't believe in Jesus therefore they're going to Hell" or some such thing.
3.6.2007 2:09am
hey (mail):
Randy: come off it - Gay Straight Alliances aren't forums for sharing opinions. They're echo chambers. It's a way to checkbox your college application for progessive intent, possibly forming a group, etc. There's no more sharing of opinions at a Gay Straight Alliance than there is at a Students Against Drunk Driving group. Both groups would not see that there is any valid opposition to any of their activities, and there will only be approbiation for members who take the more stringent stances (SADD kids working against all alcohol, 0.00 BAC).

As to being ashamed of MLK: there's also the rampant infidelity to go along with his Communist ties (I know, neither of which bother you).

Randy shows his malevolent intent in the words that he uses. Anyone that disagrees with him isn't just wrong but also hateful. What would you say to the students promoting chastity and waiting for marriage? Is that hateful too?

I really hate the culture war because I end up siding with people I disagree with to protect society from censorious prigs. Shocking that it is the fundamentalist Christians that need to be protected from censors, but that's life these days. I'm a libertine libertarian, but too many people are focused on destroying society and the family. Keep the adult fun behind closed doors to produce a secure environment for children. Let the kids gradually enter into adulthood (teen drinking and sex is going to happen, but we can help reduce the ill effects through our conduct) rather than forcing them into a fully sexualised world.

The Left needs to learn the benefits of toleration. Don't look for acceptance or love, but rather toleration and being let alone. Too bad that your ideology teaches that everyone has the same will to power as you do, hence why you must control everyone.
3.6.2007 2:48am
chris s (mail):
jdkjr - if in fact the kid was trying to engage in good faith debate, then I retract the suggestion that he was motivated solely by spite. but his words suggested as much; you generally won't succeed in sparking civil debate if you tell the other side they're abominable.

Randy, most people on this forum probably agree with you that homosexuality is innate, but this is a very disputed issue, and runs headlong into the moral teachings of most of the major religions. Given these facts, why can't the school just stick to its knitting and avoid wading into the debate on one side? of course in saying this I agree schools should police and punish bullying, whether it is motivated by anti gay bias or plain old cruelty.
3.6.2007 9:02am
Randy R. (mail):
Hey: As to being ashamed of MLK: there's also the rampant infidelity to go along with his Communist ties (I know, neither of which bother you). "

AS I have stated repeatedly, I was NOT in favor of censoring the t-shirt or the kid. I thought it not respectful, but those are two completely different issues. Neither am I am Communist nor do I support 'rampant infidelity" as you claim.

These debates are really interesting. I've offered a nuanced viewpoint, that one can allow a student to wear an offensive t-shirt but nonetheless find it unwise to do so. I've suggested that more education and dialogue is needed, and perhaps this can be a learning tool. For that, I am called a Communist, and assumptions are made that I'm a censorious liberal.

I guess what this means if that you don't agree 100% with the right-wingers, you must be 100% the other side. There is only black and white, no gray.
3.6.2007 9:18am
Randy R. (mail):
Chris: Randy, most people on this forum probably agree with you that homosexuality is innate, but this is a very disputed issue, and runs headlong into the moral teachings of most of the major religions. Given these facts, why can't the school just stick to its knitting and avoid wading into the debate on one side? of course in saying this I agree schools should police and punish bullying, whether it is motivated by anti gay bias or plain old cruelty."

Finally, a voice of reason! At we can discuss this....

I understand completely your argument. But it's also like saying why do we have to teach evolution given that it is so controversial. The whole purpose of education is to teach -- to teach the truth, to teach how to interact in the world, and to teach math, science, biology, and so on.

We can't avoid the subject of gays because it comes up too often in society, religion, and at school. How can you teach about sexual health and not mention gays? The leading cause of death of gay teenagers is suicide, and gay teenagers are far more likely to contemplate suicide than straights. IF you had a gay son or daughter, do you want them beat up all the time, or subjected to the abuse of hearing that God hates them?

I couldn't go on and on as to the reasons why it's necessary to teach this. If nothing else, it's to combat the notion that being gay is a choice. I don't think there are any easy answers, so I won't offer any. But it's a debate that simply will not go away any time soon, regardless of our person desires.
3.6.2007 9:23am
Shawn-non-anonymous:
To add a dimension that Randy R touched on, but to say it more clearly and firmly, please let me share an uncomfortable truth.

Gay children are bullied. I myself was bullied as a child from 4th grade through high school. The verbal abuse and minor violence was worse, I think, than the beatings. Some of the teachers were generally sympathetic, but did nothing.

Does the school system have a responsibility to students like myself? If so, what should they do to reduce bullying and mitigate the effects? A day or two a year educating students about what it is like to be (or perceived as) homosexual seems reasonable and likely more effective than an impossible-to-enforce anti-bullying policy.
3.6.2007 11:02am
chris s (mail):
Randy, there is a difference b/w addressing the existence of homosexuality in a class devoted to sexuality, and setting aside a day in which the school admin in essence takes sides in an ongoing debate. the evolution analogy strikes me as inpat because no one contends there is a moral component to that debate.

many people believe homosexuality is immoral, and base this belief on ancient religious teachings. Others think this is absurd, and those teachings bigoted and benighted. so why should a public school wade in, esp when there are not enough hours in the school day to cover the core topics well?

Again, bullying for any reason is contemptible and should be ferreted out and punished. and I would have no problem with a school punishing a kid for calling another kid a fag, or whatever is the slur of the day. but the school should be a referee, a cop and a judge, not an advocate.
3.6.2007 12:18pm
Randy R. (mail):
Sure. I was bullied too. And it's quite funny -- often the worst bullies were little angels back at home, leading their parents to think that they are at heart "good kids." But at school, they are the ones harassing gay kids in the locker room, in the halls and whatnot. I'm sure Chase is a 'good kid' too, but anyone who persists in wearing t-shirts like this one is doing it to harass the gay kids. Is harassing other kids part of their religion, or is it just bullying?

Bottomline: The depressing part is that bullies don't really learn from education, or Gay - Straight alliances, much as we would hope them to. But they can be held accountable for their actions.

(At this point, someone will no doubt jump in and call me a communist and friend of terrorism because I just said that anti-gay bullies, or bullies of any type, should be held accountable for their actions).
3.6.2007 12:18pm
Shawn-non-anonymous:
Chris S, peer pressure is a more useful tool. A lot of the physical violence takes place as "accidents" that a teacher could not easily "ferret out" and punish.

My high school taught how to slaughter and prepare pigs for food in the Animal Husbandry class. This is immoral based on beliefs in ancient religious teachings, one of which is Leviticus in the Old Testament.

(and this is getting a bit off topic, yes?)
3.6.2007 1:12pm
jdkjr:
Randy R. wrote:

Really? This is his (and your) idea of being respectful:

"Be Ashamed, Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned," and on the back, it said "Homosexuality is Shameful."

I was careful to represent what I know Chase's views to be. I have made no statement as to my views on this issue.

chris s wrote:

if in fact the kid was trying to engage in good faith debate, then I retract the suggestion that he was motivated solely by spite. but his words suggested as much; you generally won't succeed in sparking civil debate if you tell the other side they're abominable.

I do not dispute that the words on Chase's shirt can be read as you suggest. But I can testify that is not how Chase intended them. Chase would draw a distinction between the actions associated with homosexuality and those who identify themselves as homosexuals. He intended his statement to be applied to the actions, not the persons. Thus, his argument would be that the act is shameful, not that the person is abominable. Again, I am not endorsing his view; just representing what I know of it.
3.6.2007 1:59pm
jdkjr:
Speaking now for myself: communication is not about what the speaker says, rather what the listener hears. On this principle, Chase fell well short.
3.6.2007 2:10pm
Randy R. (mail):
Chris: many people believe homosexuality is immoral, and base this belief on ancient religious teachings."

And I have no problem with that. If you think same sex acts are immoral, then don't engage in them! Simple as that. However, when a religion or person or institution says I think it's immoral, so YOU can't or shouldn't do it, then they open up the issue for debate. If Chase really thinks its immoral, he is free to engage in whatever heterosexual acts he deems necessary. But why is he so concerned about what other people do?

I think we agree on a lot, and I quite happy about that. But schools teach human sexuality, and they show students safe sex. Why then shouldn't they show safe sex for gays? If you think that's immoral, then just close your eyes, leave the room, put your hands over your ears, whatever you want. But gay students should have the same access to information as everyone else. We might even agree on that.

Where I see a difference between you and me is in the school supporting the Day of Silence. I can understand your frustration, and I am even willing to concede that the school is crossing the boundary here. I think it's great that they are doing it, but if the community really thinks this is beyond the pale, than I wouldn't fight it.

There are ancient beliefs on immorality on tons of things, many of which are no longer deemed immoral. (Read Leviticus sometime). Why religions can't get past this one on gays, I really don't know. It's a mystery to me, and yes, the religions are wrong to suppose it is immoral, and that notion has been the source of tremendous misery in the past in the present. But that's just me.

As for Chase, you might want to remind him that about 70% of all Americans know an openly gay person. The chances are therefore quite high that he will have to work with someone who is gay, sit in a pew next to a gay person, have an elected official who is gay, rely upon a professional for services who is gay, and so on. I was brought up to dislike blacks and other minorities. Guess what? I got over it and I work with people of all backgrounds, religions, ethnicities and so on. A truly educated person judges another person on their own merits, not on he or her belief systems.
3.6.2007 3:48pm
John Herbison (mail):
Since this comment thread has so far departed from the topic of Orin's post--the import of the Supreme Court's order of vacatur--let me pose a hypothetical.

What if the school had served clam chowder in the lunchroom? Eating shellfish is condemned in Leviticus 11:9-12 ("that shall be an abomination unto you") and Deuteronomy 14:9-10 ("it is unclean unto you"). Would the school have been within its prerogative to have censored the messsage on the front of Mr. Harper's shirt ("Be Ashamed, Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned")?
3.6.2007 3:58pm
jdkjr:
Randy R said (emphasis added):

Chase really thinks [homosexual acts are] immoral, he is free to engage in whatever heterosexual acts he deems necessary. But why is he so concerned about what other people do?


The Harper petition states:

[Chase] believe[s] the Bible is the inspired Word of
God, and that homosexual behavior is contrary to the
teachings of the Bible. App. 148a. Because [he] believe[s]
that homosexual behavior is damaging to both the
participants and to society at large, [he] believe[s]
[he] ha[s] a moral and religious obligation to warn
classmates and others of that danger. App. 148a, 149a.
3.6.2007 4:53pm
Randy R. (mail):
Then Chase should also believe that eating pork in the school cafeteria is contrary to the teachings of the Bible, and eating it is damaging to both the participants and to society at large, and he has a moral and religious obligation to warn classmaes and others of that danger.

AFterall, if the school chooses to serve pork, shouldn't he be there to offer his side of the debate?
3.6.2007 9:35pm
Randy R. (mail):
And when the school teaches about the Civil War and slavery, of course, we can expect him to counter that the Bible condones slavery in many passages. And as for the women suffragites, I'm sure he'll pipe up about how women ought to be biblically treated. AFter all, these are ancient teachings that contain a great deal of wisdom, and he no doubt believes them. Therefore, the school ought to let him protest these things.

Or maybe, we should just keep all that stuff in Sunday school.
3.6.2007 9:38pm
jdkjr:
Randy R.

You miss the point. You argue perceived deficiencies in traditional Christian theology (or at least your understanding of that theology). This is not about what Chase should believe, it is about what Chase does believe and his 1st amendment right to present this belief when it is challenged.

If Chase believed "eating pork in the school cafeteria is contrary to the teachings of the Bible", he should have a 1st amendment right to question/challenge/oppose his schools advocacy of pork.

Are you in fact arguing that if Chase did have issue with pork, that he should not have a 1st amendment right to say so? Such thought censorship runs contrary to the core of our constitutional tradition. If you oppose such thought censorship, then what exactly is your issue with Chase's exercise of his right (other than the content of his message)?
3.7.2007 2:51pm
Colin (mail):
Are you in fact arguing that if Chase did have issue with pork, that he should not have a 1st amendment right to say so?

He's been pretty explicit in several comments in this thread that he does, in fact, believe the student has a valid expression right here. His criticism, and please correct me if I'm wrong, is not that Chase can't speak out, but that his choice of message is hypocritical and boorish.
3.7.2007 3:20pm
Ramza:

Are you in fact arguing that if Chase did have issue with pork, that he should not have a 1st amendment right to say so? Such thought censorship runs contrary to the core of our constitutional tradition. If you oppose such thought censorship, then what exactly is your issue with Chase's exercise of his right (other than the content of his message)?

No Randy believes Chase has the right to say that, he has repeated it several times. Yet he is just mocking Chase's theology logic.

It is similar to how I am against the KKK, but I support their right to perform a march due to the right of assemble. Of course I would still mock their position, but they have the right to voice their position.
3.8.2007 3:26pm