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A school district in Florida made headlines after a student was arrested following his refusal to recite the Pledge of Allegiance last week. According to reporting from Casey Quackenbush in Time, the student refused to stand and recite the Pledge, which both sides say led to a disagreement with the substitute teacher in his classroom.
The school district has said that it believes in their students’ freedom of expression, arguing that the incident was related to the “disturbance” rather than his refusal. However, the student and his attorney argue that his rights under the First Amendment were violated. In addition, the attorney accused the teacher of making racist remarks regarding the student, who is black.
Courts have ruled that time can be set aside for the Pledge, not that students can be compelled to recite it. The extent of free speech protections is a perennial headline issue, with arguments on both sides of the political spectrum focusing on hate speech, free speech, and libel.
Just this week, Justice Clarence Thomas argued the Supreme Court must revisit libel laws, per reporting from Jess Bravin in the Wall Street Journal. Under current precedent, libel cases brought by public officials and figures rarely result in favorable rulings. President Trump has been a vocal critic of U.S. libel laws with specific focus on this fact.