Two middle school students in Michigan are suing their school district, Tri County Area Schools, after being ordered to remove their sweatshirts with the anti-Biden slogan, “Let’s Go, Brandon.” The lawsuit filed by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) argues that the school district violated the student’s constitutional rights to free speech.
The Origin of “Let’s Go, Brandon”
“Let’s Go Brandon” has become a political rallying cry against President Biden and the media bias. The phrase originated from an October 2nd interview with race-car driver Brandon Brown after winning his first NASCAR Xfinity Series race. NBC reporter Kelli Stavast attempted to conduct an interview with Brown but was interrupted by loud “F*** Joe Biden” chants from the crowd. Stavast quickly declared that the crowd was chanting “Let’s Go, Brandon,” which became a euphemism for the anti-Biden sentiment.
Selective Enforcement of School Dress Code
In this case, the assistant principal and a teacher ordered the boys to remove their sweatshirts for allegedly breaking the school dress code. However, other students were allowed to wear other political apparel, including “gay-pride-themed hoodies.” The school district’s dress code allows for any staff member to enforce the code if the student’s dress is in conflict with state policy, is a danger to health and safety, is obscene, or is disruptive to the learning environment.
Selective enforcement of the dress code is evident in this case. The “Let’s Go, Brandon” slogan is not profane, but rather a substitution of non-profane words for profane ones. One student was even told that his sweatshirt was equivalent to the “f-word” by an assistant principal.
The Importance of Free Speech
The case raises concerns about the arbitrary enforcement of dress codes and intolerance of opposing views in schools. It is precisely why we are seeing a generation of students who are afraid of free speech and intolerant of opposing views. This case is a critical free speech issue, and FIRE is to be commended for taking up the cause for these middle school students.
As the Supreme Court declared in Tinker v. Des Moines, students do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate. The case also highlights the importance of the First Amendment and reinforces free speech rights in our schools. Viewpoint discrimination is an egregious form of content discrimination and is presumptively unconstitutional, as stated in Iancu v. Brunetti.
In conclusion, the “Let’s Go, Brandon” case in Michigan is an essential reminder of the importance of free speech and the need to protect it, especially in schools. Arbitrary enforcement of dress codes and intolerance of opposing views only hinder our society’s progress and must be fought against.