The Southern Legal Resource Center
News Release
For Immediate Release: Friday, June 3, 2005
SLRC case helps provide basis for ACLU t-shirt victory

BLACK MOUNTAIN, NC – The ruling in a precedent-setting court case won by the Southern Legal Resource Center in 2003 played a significant part in a West Virginia court’s decision to strike down a local high school’s ban on Confederate-themed clothing.

The American Civil Liberties Union brought suit against the Putnam County Board of Education and the principal of Hurricane High School on behalf of a student who was “disciplined” on two occasions for wearing items of clothing bearing small representations of Confederate flags. The plaintiff claimed that the school’s dress code, which specifically included the Confederate flag among “offensive symbols” not to be worn by students, violated his First Amendment constitutional rights.

Last week the U.S. District Court sided with the student, citing as one precedent the ruling in Castorina v. Madison County Schools, a federal Sixth Circuit decision that overturned a similar ban on Confederate symbols.

“We said at the time that Castorina was a vitally important decision that would help stem the tide of these oppressive restrictions in public schools,” said SLRC Chief Trial Counsel Kirk Lyons. “This gives us a an important legal entrée in the Fourth Circuit – Maryland, the Virginias and the Carolinas – where we badly needed one.. The SLRC has cases pending in the Fourth Circuit right now, as well as several actions being contemplated there.

“The Castorina case is also the basis for the suit we have brought on behalf of our client Jacqueline Duty, also in Kentucky. You’d think those school boards over there would pay attention since Castorina was decided in their back yard.” Last year Ms. Duty, then a high school senior, attempted to wear a Confederate-themed evening gown to her senior prom. She was denied admittance, prevented from leaving her car and threatened with arrest. She has sued school officials under both federal and Kentucky law on several charges ranging from First Amendment violation to false imprisonment.

The Southern Legal Resource Center is the only firm in the United States devoted exclusively to providing legal assistance to individuals and organizations in matters involving Southern heritage and culture.

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