There was what seems to be an awful decision today by a divided panel (2 of the 3 judges who heard the case) of the 9th Circuit in Harper v. Poway Unified School District. The case involved a high school student who decided to wear a t-shirt expressing his view that homosexuality is a sin in conjunction with a school-supported, if not sponsored, "Day of Silence" designed to promote the opposing view. 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 kid was told he had to take the shirt off and was told to "keep his religion in his car."
The opinion upholding the school's censorship of his speech was written by Stephen Reinhardt, hands down the worst judge in America. He says that "derogatory and injurious remarks directed at students' minority status such as race, religion, and sexual orientation" are unprotected in schools because they "may destroy the self-esteem of our most vulnerable teenagers and interfere with their educational development."
But of course what he means is speech that is objectionable to the minorities that he approves of. That Chase Harper found the speech promoted by the Day of Silence to be injurious to and derogatory of his evangelical faith doesn't count. That a school, having permitted students to speak, would permit them to speak on only one side of a controversial issue is apparently fine in Reinhardt's Brave New World. I want to read the case and will blog more, but this strikes me as an extraordinarily authoritarian and wrongheaded decision. I doubt it will survive further scrutiny, either from the en banc 9th Circuit (all the judges in that circuit) or the Supreme Court.