Students

High School Trump Fan Sues Over School Discipline for Border Wall T-Shirt

"If people are offended by his shirt-that's their right to be offended," said the student's attorney, state Rep. Mike McLane. "But it's also his right to have his opinion."

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modified from photo of t-shirt filed with court

Addison Barnes almost made it through his senior year at Liberty High School without triggering a First Amendment battle—but not quite. According to a new federal lawsuit filed on Barnes' behalf, administrators at the Oregon school banned the student from wearing a tee-shirt in support of Donald Trump's plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"If people are offended by his shirt—that's their right to be offended," Mike McLane, the student's attorney, told local newscasters. "But it's also his right to have his opinion, as well. The constitutional line isn't who's offended. The constitutional line is there a specific and clear disturbance being created by the expression of the student's political speech." And in this case, said McLane—who also serves as a state representative and the House Republican leader—there was no disturbance except for the one instigated by school officials.

Barnes wore the offending shirt to his politics class on a day they were scheduled to discuss immigration. According to the suit, the assistant principal told Barnes that his shirt—which reads "Donald J. Trump Border Wall Construction Co.," followed by "The Wall Just Got 10 Feet Taller" (a quote from Trump's primary debate days)—was offensive to the teacher of the class and to at least one student.

She told him cover up the shirt if he wanted to return to class, which he did. But once back in class, Barnes again unveiled the t-shirt—this time prompting a visit from the school's security guard, who took him to the assistant principal's office. She allegedly threatened Barnes with suspension if he did not cover up his t-shirt. When he still wouldn't comply, she issued a suspension and sent him home.

In his suit against the Hillsboro School District and Liberty High School, Barnes accuses officials of "suppression of a student's political speech based on other students' and teachers' alleged discomfort with the ideas and message" that the speech conveyed.

Barnes "engaged in a respectful, silent, and peaceful expression of his political views by wearing a t-shirt supporting the immigration and homeland security policies of President Donald J. Trump to school," the suit says. Making him cover the shirt or face disciplinary action "was unconstitutional," since "the First Amendment protects students' right to speak on political or societal issues—including the right to express what school officials may consider unpopular or controversial opinions, or viewpoints that might make other students uncomfortable."

The school district has said that it will not comment on the pending case, which was assigned this week to Magistrate Judge John V. Acosta of the U.S. District Court in Portland. The next case deadlines are set for the fall.

If things did play out as Barnes says, it would seem he has a good chance of winning the case. Whatever you think of the kid's shirt or his preferred border-security plans—and I'm not a fan of either—his understanding of the First Amendment is sound. If only the same could be said for the school's administrators.

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  1. Looks to me like Liberty High School needs a new name.

    1. ^^^Thread winner by TKO.

    2. The irony is lost on the school administration.

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  2. Why are these stories always about conservative values being suppressed/blocked/squashed by public schools and never liberal values?

    Hmm, what could it be…

    1. Tolerant people don’t tolerate intolerance, and conservative values are intolerant. Thus conservative values cannot be tolerated. In the name of tolerance.

      1. Both sides are intolerant. They are just intolerant of different things.

        1. I wonder how Che shirts are tolerated.

        2. For an example from the other side, look at the case of an Arizona high school that sent a student (Mariah Havard) home for wearing a BLM t-shirt. The claim was that she was “creating a disruption.” The same kind of argument that was probably made for the border wall shirt wearer.

          The power to punish students for speech that the administration doesn’t like can be wielded against any message, left or right.

          1. the punch line used to be “first we kill all the lawyers” I suggest “first we kill all the school administrators”…just spit ballin’ here

    2. It doesn’t end in the school.

      Dartmouth Study Finds Democrats Are The Least Tolerant Students On Campus

      Quote:
      In the campus-wide field survey, students of all political stripes were asked how comfortable they would be about living with a roommate who holds opposing political views. Of the 432 students surveyed, only 39 percent of students who identified as Democrats said they would feel comfortable living with a Republican, 16 percent said they felt neutral about the proposed arrangement, while 45 percent, a plurality, said they felt uncomfortable.
      A majority of students who identified as Republicans (69 percent) said they were comfortable living with someone of opposing political views, 19 percent said they felt neutral about it, and only 12 percent said they felt uncomfortable. Among Independent students, 61 percent said they felt comfortable living with someone with opposite views, 22 percent were neutral about it, and 16 percent were uncomfortable.

      1. Wait–Republicans are the most tolerant?

        Unpossible!!!!!

        1. I would have expected Independents to take the edge there.

      2. I always answer neutral to those kind of questions. I never know what to say. Why would I feel particularly comfortable?

    3. Why are these stories always about conservative values being suppressed/blocked/squashed by public schools and never liberal values?

      I also like how we have a pretty solid example of immigrants or immigrant-friendly zealotry outright trouncing a native(?)’s rights under the constitution and the best defense Reason can muster is, “Well, he’s got a right to wear the t-shirt.” It’s almost insulting.

      1. a pretty solid example of illegal immigrants or illegal immigrant-friendly zealotry outright trouncing a native’s rights under the constitution

        Just a bit of clarification. The wall is to prevent ILLEGAL immigration.

        1. The wall is to prevent ILLEGAL immigration.

          Sure but it’s unknown whether the teacher, administrators, and/or students who actually forced him to remove the shirt were illegal, legal immigrants, or natives.

          1. None of the above; they were just stupid self centered bureaucrats incapable of presenting a valid, logical, and true case for why their view and personal opinion should supersede the US Constitution.

        2. Well, any analysis shows that it will do a very bad job at preventing illegal immigration. The vast majority of people here illegally entered legally and overstayed their visas. It’s ludicrously expensive and won’t work. That’s why we should not build the wall.

          But no, he should not be silenced, especially by a government entity.

          1. what if we kept a list of all the people who got visas, and we assigned dates for when they were no longer valid, and then if they didn’t leave we could go find them (or at least make a vague attempt) and send them back to their point of origin….oh wait, that would require some level of competence and an above room temperature IQ on the part of our elected officials & bureaucrats…never mind

      2. Contrast this grudging “well I guess he has a right to his opinion” coverage with the fawning coverage reason gave the students who walked out of class over BLM.

        1. Might as well get it over with and say this article doesn’t exist. After all, it doesn’t further your narrative that Reason is a leftist rag.

          1. Do you deny that they gave very positive coverage to the walk out over BLM?

            1. I don’t pay that much attention. Unlike you I don’t view every article through a “Are they giving enough support to Republicans?” lens.

              1. The contrast in coverage is very noticeable. If you don’t like it, too bad.

                1. The contrast in coverage is very noticeable.

                  To you.

                  If you don’t like it, too bad.

                  You’re the one who bitches and moans in every comments section about how Reason is a bunch of closet commies who hate Republicans.

                  1. Gentlemen, I think you two should settle your differences through a contest. I’ll give you both a copy Age of Empires II, and you two can duke it out on Arabia. The loser must send the winner a picture of his genitals as an act of submission and a $25 gift card to the place of the winner’s choosing.

                    1. Age of Empires II and an anime reference further down. Your power level is showing, Yellow Tony.

                    2. AoE is beloved by the normal people. Fuck, Microsoft finally sanctioned the creation of the fourth iteration.
                      I will not comment on the latter, and please don’t tell my wife.

                    3. But who wants to see John’s dickfor?

                    4. Or sarc’s mutilated vagina.

                    5. i thought it was dickfur

                    6. i thought it was dickfur

            2. “Might as well get it over with and say this article doesn’t exist. After all, it doesn’t further your narrative that Reason is a leftist rag.”

              And Nick Gillespie is a hard core supporter on the Republican side of Net Neutrality

              1. Or Republicans are hard core supporters of Nick Gillespie’s side of Net Neutrality.

        2. I guess when there is a Republican (not just any R but Literally Hitler) in office it’s doubleplusgood to virtue signal to lefties.

          1. today’s hitler wouldn’t be a republican and she wouldn’t hate jews. she would be a democrat and she would hate whites.

    4. My knee-jerk reaction is that I don’t find it offensive but it’s certainly controversial enough that the school could take issue. I don’t mind children having such expression limited in our obligatory educational institutions. What I do mind is when it is so blatantly one-sided. If there are not an equivalent number of situations where leftist are banned from political posturing and activism then we have a major issue. Also, I do see an obvious issue where if that shirt is too offensive to wear then the political position would also be too offensive to discuss in a government class. We’re encroaching on propaganda quickly by narrowing the overton window to only leftist priorities.

      1. That is exactly it. No way in hell would the school ever punish someone for wearing a political shirt that supported the left. And the point is to make any dissent from leftist orthodoxy unacceptable.

        1. Would a student be celebrated if he wore a shirt depicting Marx anally fucking Mises?

          1. Nobody on Earth who isn’t a libertarian has any idea who Mises is.

            1. Wrong. My cats are communists, but they know of Mises.

              1. I think you are confusing him with Meowses, a famous feline pbilosopher that expounded on the superiority of felines of over canines and primates.

                1. I thought Meowses was the guy with the stone tablets.

                2. “I think you are confusing him with Meowses, a famous feline pbilosopher that expounded on the superiority of felines of over canines and primates.”

                  Hahaha WTF. This place has some crazy people.

              2. Marx anally fucked almost everybody, so Mises would just be another guy.

              3. Marx anally fucked almost everybody, so Mises would just be another guy.

              4. Meow Tse-tung?

          2. You mean Engels?

        2. “No way in hell would the school ever punish someone for wearing a political shirt that supported the left.”

          They used to. Fortunately, the left fought back, winning victories in Tinker v. Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969), and Burnside v. Byars, 363 F.2d 744 (5th Cir. 1966), that can now be used to defend right-wingers. (Actually, it wasn’t shirts in those cases, but black armbands and political buttons, but the principle is the same.)

      2. If there are not an equivalent number of situations where leftist are banned from political posturing and activism then we have a major issue.

        Being offended by leftist political posturing is itself an act of intolerance that can get someone into big trouble.

      3. “My knee-jerk reaction is that I don’t find it offensive but it’s certainly controversial enough that the school could take issue.”

        You mean as controversial as the Vietnam War was in 1965, or the civil rights movement was in 1964? Now read Tinker v. Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969), and Burnside v. Byars, 363 F.2d 744 (5th Cir. 1966), and explain why this student’s right to free expression should be less than that of the plaintiffs in those cases.

        1. I’m accepting that children in compulsory public education aren’t granted the same rights of expression as the general public or adult population. They have a dress code identifying how much skin can show and ban images with cursing, drugs, or guns. If political advocacy is among the things restricted, then let it be applied evenly and not just because a certain political faction finds the other side offensive. I’m open to simply not having a dress code as well, but do see some practical reasons to limit some of the student’s “expression” in order to focus on educating. In this instance I’d prefer to see that his shirt didn’t cross that line, but if left wing political activism (even that which might offend) isn’t similarly pinished then it is a blatant problem of institutional bias

          1. every one in school must be NAKED…admins (shudder), teachers (double shudder) and students (mildly pervy shudder of delight)…the only exemption is the custodial staff when working with harsh chemicals

      4. The Overton window, also known as the window of discourse, is the range of ideas tolerated in public discourse

        1. I thought that was the song John Candy sang in Volunteers…

          1. This was the first thing that popped into my head when I saw “Overton”

  3. Full stop. You do not have a right to not be offended

    1. Of course you do. I am not offended. Try and stop me.

  4. The school district has said that it will not comment on the pending case…

    Put it on a t-shirt.

  5. Where’s OBL? I need some lukewarm pro-Reason “trolling” to really bookend Reason’s Pro-Constitution, I guess*, reporting.

    *I’m not a fan of ENB’s outfits or her border security plans either.

    1. I’m not a fan of ENB’s outfits
      Over. The. Line.

      1. He wasn’t able to get them to fit properly.

      2. Design an ENB outfit and we’ll tell you which European country you should visit!

  6. Legal question: what if he was wearing it ironically?

    1. That depends on how many levels of irony he was one. I think seven is the legal threshold where one may be exonerated. But then again, I pretended to be retarded for seven years to accomplish an important objective, but I was told I was still a retard despite me saying it was merely an act! Fools.

      1. being told you’re a fucking moron is not the same as being told you’re retarded…just sayin…

    2. Nobody irons t-shirts!

  7. This is why I advertised my beliefs with ass stickers. In the school bathrooms, the dudes would take notice of my fervently wordy ass every time I would engage with the urinal. “Legalize pocket fetuses!” “Stop shaming abortion addicts!” “Tsukasa > Kagami” “Hot pockets are shit!” “9/11 was an inside job!” These are the slogans that transformed the male bathrooms from crass and dirty places to centers of intellectual discourse. (Though they were still dirty.) And it’s all thanks to my activism, attention-whoring, and my enjoyment of pulling my pants down to my ankles when using the urinal.
    You can make a difference, high school students, but you must be prudent!

    1. Fervently Wordy Ass was my band name in highschool.

    2. Yellow Tony just might be the most entertaining Tony.

      1. Yellow journalism if you ask me.

        1. If you pull your pants down around your ankles, how does anyone see the stickers?

    3. Children at my school used to enjoy dookie-ing in urinals.

  8. Did they really think it was OK to discipline a kid for a T-shirt with a political statement? Really?
    Can we charge them with public stupidity also? I’m sure a jury will go for that in a New York minute.

  9. Brave kid. I hope Nick Gillespie doesn’t report him to Oregon’s local chapter of MS-13.

    1. See Something Say Something !

  10. It does not seem to me that the teacher of a politics class instigating a discussion has any right to claim to be “offended”. Any teacher who is really that thin-skinned has no business teaching a controversial topic. Don’t like it? Switch to math or music.

    Honestly, this sounds a bit like the kid who murdered his parents then tried to throw himself on the mercy of the court because he was an orphan.

    1. I’m sure if this particular ‘instructor’ were to switch to teaching math, she’d be offended if one of her students referred to something as an ‘odd’ or an ‘irrational’ number.

  11. Title 18, Section 241 makes it a federal felony for any two or more people, acting under color of law, to violate or deny the free exercise of any civil, statutory or constitutional right anywhere within the borders of the United States. A public school vice-principal is acting under color of law when they assign disciplinary actions.

    When the security guard enforced the suspension, both guard and vice-principal committed a felony punishable by up to 10 years in a federal prison. Yes, the student can sue and is suing, but any rights violation that is a tort under 42 USC 1983 is also a criminal act under 18 USC 241 & 242. Case law on political expression by students is very, very clear and very, very well-established. The student was in full compliance with 1st amendment case law as it applies to students.

    Were it me standing in that office, I’d probably make a citizen’s arrest.

    1. Title 18, Section 241 makes it a federal felony for any two or more people, acting under color of law, to violate or deny the free exercise of any civil, statutory or constitutional right anywhere within the borders of the United States.

      Laws are meaningless when no one will enforce them.

      1. I’ve been suggesting in some other forums for some time now, that there is a form of protest/activism that has never been tried, yet is 100% legal in most of the US: Don’t just yell, don’t just carry a sign, don’t just say something if you see something, don’t just passively take video. ARREST the people you see committing crimes.

        I’m sure someone will chime in with some nonsense about how beating up cops won’t end well, but I never suggested anything such thing. An arrest happens when you become aware of it, not when you are beaten into a hospitalization, cuffed & stuffed or shot in the back by a cop who feared you might fart him to death as you ran away. Having court-admissible evidence that police resisted arrest with violence, fled from arrest and even staged jailbreaks won’t do their careers any favors — the courts, at all levels, have long taken the position that you have no ability to judge if an arrest is proper, so resistance is ALWAYS unacceptable. Sue later, but don’t resist arrest.

    2. …where school shooters come from….

  12. Goobers-in-training and fledgling bigots have rights, too. This yahoo should get to wear his shirt.

  13. This BS happens all the time. I got the same schlock for denigrating the drug war in a political science class at Southern Oregon University (in the “free discussion” area of our electronic bulletin board) populated by drug Nazis who were offended by my lack of “respect” for law enforcement. In discovery, I got emails from the dean of the PoliSci Dept talking to other administrators about how I was a threat to their funding, etc. Judges ignored the important points and simply stated there was no free speech right to be “rude” in class, but dismissed the case on qualified immunity grounds.

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  15. US schools joined in the game of politics this year when they had the gun control walk-out day. Gotta accept the pros with the cons.

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  17. i didn’t know that about the constitutional line. i thought the constitutional line was ‘threats’. oh and also the ‘fire’ thing. freedom of speech and its parameters are actually pretty difficult to define. doxing, threats, yelling ‘fire’. these are all separate categories. but i think we can all agree that whether or not someone’s offended or even incited to violent acts *in response to* speech should not be the speaker’s responsibility.

  18. skokie, nazis, blah blah blah

    (i just skokie’d this discussion)

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