Freedom of Speech Extends to Boobie Bracelets, Says Law Student Zachary Navit
Student of the First Amendment Zachary Navit offers his comments on a recent court decision that helps better define the freedom of expression rights of students while in school through the sanction of breast cancer awareness bracelets.
PHILADELPHIA, PA, August 15, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Those who study the First Amendment in depth such as law student Zachary Navit can attest to the complexity of the famous legal article. While the Amendment protects the rights of United States citizens to free speech and expression, exceptions must inevitably be made in various specific cases. This makes the First Amendment a legal balancing act between an individual's rights and the safety and decency of the public at large.
One place in which this balance of freedom versus order is the most obvious is in the American school system. Here, the rights of students to free expression and the authority of school administrators to veto certain forms of this expression have been in contention at least since the 1960s, when the Des Moines School District was taken before the Supreme Court for banning students from wearing black armbands in protest of the war in Vietnam.
In this landmark legal case, the Supreme Court upheld the students' rights to freedom of expression over the school's authority. And, according to a recent news article by the Los Angeles Times, a Pennsylvania federal appeals court has made a similar ruling - this time in favor of "boobie bracelets."
According to the article, the case in question concerned female students from a local area middle school who wore bracelets with the message "I [heart] boobies! (Keep a Breast)" in support of breast cancer awareness. School administrators, however, considered this lewd speech and, in accordance with legal provisos that school administrators can still limit student expression on certain grounds, banned the girls from wearing said bracelets. The matter escalated until it made its recent court appearance.
While not as monumental a ruling or as contentious a subject as the war protests of the Tinker v. Des Moines School District case of 1969, many legal experts still hold that the "boobie bracelet" case will go down as another important court ruling in the arena of the First Amendment rights of students.
"It's a silly case on the surface, but it has deeper implications," says First Amendment law student Zachary Navit on the matter. "The school district's argument was that the speech involved was lewd and therefore should be banned. The court's decision, however, was that if the expression was not substantially disruptive or criminally intended, then administrators being offended by it is not enough grounds to suppress it. It's not an entirely original ruling, granted, but it is an important legal distinction."
Zachary Navit does not believe that the boobie bracelet case will have the same trumpeting call as the Vietnam black band case, but nonetheless, it represents another important discussion on which rights students retain within school grounds.
In 2012, Zachary Navit joined the Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law out of a desire to assist people who were struggling with their First Amendment rights and personal freedoms. Today he maintains a GPA of 3.586 and a rank of 18 out of 87 members of his program. This puts Navit on a solid track to earning his Juris Doctorate in 2015, after which he plans to become a major advocate for the First Amendment rights of citizens in practice as well as voice. He is currently working on his internship in the Philadelphia state courts as a law clerk, where he drafts and edits Memorandums in addition to performing his legal research.
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