Supreme Court denies review of armband case

ARKANSAS -- The United States Supreme Court declined Monday to hear a case raising the issue of schools' authority to punish students for wearing protest armbands.

In December, Watson Chapel School District in Pine Bluff, Ark., filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to hear the case of Lowry v. Watson Chapel School District after the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court decision that three students -- Chris Lowry, Colton Dougan and Michael Joseph -- were wrongfully suspended for wearing black armbands to protest the school district's dress code policy.

The case attracted considerable attention because of its close factual resemblance to Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, the Supreme Court's landmark 1969 ruling affirming that the First Amendment protected students' right to wear protest armbands in school.

"This was a predictable outcome, as it has been clear from the outset that suspending students simply for expressing their opinion is a violation of their constitutional rights," said Rita Sklar, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, in a press release Wednesday.

"The Watson Chapel School District is not exempt from having to comply with the First Amendment, and the students in this case deserve a lot of credit for having the courage to stand up for what is right."

For More Information:

  • Then and Now: Black armbands continue to raise important speech questions for students protesting issues on-campus Report, 1/6/2009
  • Arkansas school district asks Supreme Court to hear black armband case News Flash, 12/2/2008
  • Appellate court rules school district violated First Amendment rights of students who wore black armbands to school News Flash, 9/8/2008

  • Free-speech rights upheld in modern-day Tinker The Report, 12/17/2007
  • Court: School wrong to punish students who wore black armbands to protest dress code News Flash, 9/19/2007
  • School board members dismissed from Ark. dress code case News Flash, 8/27/2007

  • Ark., Arkansas, news, Pine Bluff, Watson Chapel School District