Gucci Purses OK, Confederate Flagged Purses Not So OK

By Joel Zand on October 13, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

According to a new federal appeals court decision today, one Ft. Worth, Texas suburb has quite a recent history of racially charged student confrontations.

So when two students at Burleson High School sued after being asked to leave their Confederate flag decorated purses in the school's office, they did what many folks might: they sued.

But in an 18-page decision, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals concluded that the school official's decision to ban Confederate flagged purses to prevent yet another racial conflict at BHS (the school has quite an unsavory track record in this area), they were well within their rights.

Here's why.

BHS compiled a litany of race-related conflicts amongst students over the years:

  • In the 2002-03 academic year: there were 35 such race-related conflicts
  • In 2003-04, one racially motivated incident was reported
  • From 2004-05, there were ten (10) racially-charged incidents reported
  • During the 2005-06, there were seven (7) race-related incidents recorded

Oh, and these were just the ones that were reported and recorded.

Given its history of racial tension -- some incidents which were triggered by students who showcased Confederate flags -- the school adopted a policy of banning such displays.

The two young women who brought their Confederate flag-adorned purses to school were warned by school officials that students could be disciplined for violating school policy.

They claimed that their First Amendment rights to free speech were violated by the school's policy. The U.S. District Court disagreed.

Citing U.S. Supreme Court precedent, the court ruled that the school's Confederate flag-bearing ban was a constitutionally protected decision, rationally related to the legitimate interest of maintaining school discipline.  They affirmed a lower court decision dismissing the case.

Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Fendi knock-offs -- the likes of which newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor fought against -- should have few problems in BHS hallways.

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