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If you're wondering why the Drudge Siren™ is flashing, a federal ruled today that three high school students' rights to freedom of speech were not violated when they were sent home for wearing American flag T-shirts. 

The case began on May 5, 2010, when five Live Oak High School students wore T-shirts with the American flag on them to their school in Northern California. They were then sent home for violating the dress code's rule against clothing that detracts from the learning environment.

Here's why: It was Cinco de Mayo, and school officials feared a repeat of last year's racially-charged clash between a group of students celebrating the holiday with Mexican flags and a group of students who responded to that with an American flag and pro-America chants.

Three of those students (and their parents) then sued the school for violating their rights to freedom of speech, but in 2011 a federal judge dismissed the case. They appealed, and arguments were heard last year. Tonight, the judge ruled that the school was within its rights to ban the shirts because it had "reasonable" cause to fear that they would cause a "potentially violent disturbance."

And yes, there were students wearing Mexican flags that day and no, they were not sent home -- though, if you read the original case (which I'm going to take a wild guess a lot of the people ranting about this case have not), that's because the vice principal didn't see any of the students who were wearing them. He may well have sent them home too if he had. This is not an example of a judge valuing Mexican pride over American, as some pundits are sure to say it is, but a judge valuing a public school's right to avoid violent situations over the First Amendment. 

One of the students' lawyers told the AP he plans to appeal the case to the Supreme Court if necessary. The AP also notes that the country of Mexico celebrates Cinco de Mayo about as much as Ireland celebrate St. Patrick's Day. 

All this said, one wonders if perhaps Live Oak High School could find a better way to deal with the potentially violent disturbances between its students' ethnic groups than just sending some of them home. But this is the school's failing, not the court's.

Anyway, here we go!

Additional Outrage Update, 11:31 p.m.:


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