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California school’s uniform regulation violates free speech, court rules

A Nevada grammar school violated students’ right to free speech in mandating they wear a school uniform with its motto, “Tomorrow’s Leaders,” emblazoned on it, a federal court has ruled.

The Los Angeles Times reports the U.S. 9th Circuit Court unanimously ruled on Friday in favor of one parent’s legal objection to Roy Gomm Elementary School’s uniform policy. The school is located in Reno.  

The "policy compels speech because it mandates the written motto, 'Tomorrow's Leaders,' on the uniform shirts," Judge Jacqueline H. Nguyen reportedly said in her decision, in which she was  joined by the other two judges on the three-judge panel that ultimately rendered the opinion.

The Reno school reportedly enacted the uniform policy in 2011, but exempted students who donned the uniforms of national youth organizations, like the Boy Scouts of America, or Girl Scouts of the USA.

The court also found this exemption problematic, in writing, "The exemption explicitly favors the uniforms of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts over all other uniforms . . . and favors the uniforms of 'nationally recognized' youth organizations over those of locally or regionally recognized youth organizations."

The Times reports that in the ruling, the judges cited legal precedent, and specifically a 1977 U.S. Supreme Court opinion that ruled a New Hampshire law unconstitutional that mandated state motorists use license plates with the state motto, “Live Free or Die.”