This is a rush transcript from "The Big Story With John Gibson and Heather Nauert," October 4, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
HEATHER NAUERT, CO-HOST: It's the "Big Issue" tonight, and that is freedom of speech on campus. Kids in high school wear all kinds of t-shirts to express themselves. Shirts with vulgar language or indecent pictures, of course, will get them sent home.
JOHN GIBSON, CO-HOST: But one student was just kicked out of his school for simply showing his support for his favorite presidential candidate. Administrators claimed he violated the new school dress code, but are they violating his right to free speech? "Big Story" correspondent, Douglas Kennedy, just spoke with the boy's father and has more on this campus controversy.
DOUGLAS KENNEDY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, this was a sophomore wearing a t-shirt supporting John Edwards. The shirt said nothing indecent, but in most places, it wouldn't be considered indecent in the place he was wearing it, it certainly was.
In Texas, those who like liberal Democrats are few and far between.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I love Texas.
KENNEDY: Which is why Pete Palmer was skeptical when his Texas high school told him he couldn't wear a John Edwards 2008 t-shirt to class.
PETE PALMER, STUDENT BOOTED FROM SCHOOL: I just think they're wrong. I think this what they're saying oversteps its bounds when it comes to this.
KENNEDY: The school is called Waxahachie and it's in a the suburbs south of Dallas. Administrators there cite a dress code policy they say allows them to choose which t-shirts are appropriate and which should be prohibited.
THOMAS J COLLINS, WAXAHACHIE INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DIST. SUPERINTENDENT: The dress code gives us the tools to make a decision on what is right and what isn't.
KENNEDY: The story is similar to Zachary Giles whose school in Vermont suspended him for wearing an anti-Bush slogan on his t-shirt. The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of Giles, claming schools are not allowed to decide what messages they like or don't like. Waxahachie, for instance, does welcome t-shirts supporting school sports and declaring allegiance to a college or university. Pete's father calls it another example of free speech being stifled on school campuses.
PAUL PALMER, PETE'S FATHER: It's a first amendment constitutional right that he has that people have fought and died for and I don't know why he should give it up.
COLLINS: It had nothing to do with trying to stifle anyone's free speech, it was an opportunity for us to continue to try to maintain a safe and orderly environment.
KENNEDY: A spokesperson for the Edwards campaign says they are grateful for Palmer's support, but they do not want to see him get in trouble. As for Palmer himself, he says he's sticking to his guns and with his presidential pick.
PETE PALMER: It's an incorrect policy and it needs to be changed and if, by god, if they have to get a court ruling to do so, then it's important to do it.
KENNEDY: In a statement, the school says its campus is not an unbounded form for practicing student speech. The school says its goal is to provide a safe and orderly learning environment. It's as if students want to express their political beliefs they are free to join a campus group or they say, John and Heather, they can wear a political button.
NAUERT: Douglas, isn't this, in face, a freedom of speech violation? The Supreme Court says it is.
KENNEDY: You know, I've covered dozens of these stories and every court has always said if you allow some speech, you have to allow all speech. And they are allowing t-shirts with sports slogans and so on so forth, so...
GIBSON: They wouldn't let a skinhead come in with a white power message, or they wouldn't let somebody, you know, where a message that was you know, -- push gay bashing or anything like...
KENNEDY: That's absolutely what they're trying to prevent. But they don't really, it seems, know the law. And this is not something that would be disruptive like that.
GIBSON: Kid's going to win the case?
KENNEDY: He's going to win. I imagine they'll have to fold once they check with an attorney.
GIBSON: And his candidate isn't going to win the contest.
KENNEDY: I don't know about that, John.
GIBSON: Well, we'll see.
NAUERT: The parents did say they might sue. Thanks Douglas.
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