Supreme Court could hear the ‘Boobies’ Bracelet case

    October 30, 2013

The case between two teenage girls and a Pennsylvania school district may soon be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case began in 2010 when Brianna Hawk and Kayla Martinez, now 14 and 15, were suspended from school for wearing bracelets with the phrase “I (heart) boobies” in support for Breast Cancer Awareness Day. The school district had banned the bracelets from school, claiming the bracelets are lewd.

The purpose of the bracelets is to promote breast cancer awareness among younger individuals. The girls said they were hoping to promote awareness at their middle school. The district failed to prove to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, that the bracelets were disruptive and the court’s decision remained in favor of the girls in August.

“The Third Circuit Court has compromised administrators’ abilities to intervene in what is and what is not appropriate in school,” Superintendent John Reinhart said.

This case is very similar to a previous case seen by the Supreme Court in 1969, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District.

Here’s the facts:

Mary Beth Tinker, 13, and her brother, John Tinker, 15, decided to wear black armbands to their schools in protest of the Vietnam War. Mary Tinker was a junior high student and John was in high school. Faculty had created a policy for students wearing armbands would be asked to remove, or if violated would be suspended. After the Tinkers and their friend Christopher Eckhardt decided to violate the policy, they were all suspended from school.

A suit was filed and was eventually heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The court decided on behalf of Mary Beth Tinker, and held that faculty must have to provide the courts with valid reasons to regulate speech in a K-12 School.

The precedent states that students, nor teachers, lose their constitutional rights to “freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” The Tinker test is still used in courts to decide whether actions within a school system are violating a students first amendment rights.

Moral of the story: the Court found that the actions of the Tinkers in wearing armbands did not cause disruption and held that their activity was constitutionally protected because it was symbolic speech.

Image (via) Keep A Breast Foundation.