Michigan School District Sued-Forced Students to Take Off ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ Sweatshirts

Two students prohibited from wearing ‘Let’s GO, Brandon,’ a phrase critical of President Joe Biden, have filed a lawsuit against their Michigan school district for trampling their First Amendment rights.

The two students are represented by The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE). FIRE is “a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending and sustaining the individual rights of all Americans to free speech and thought.”

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The two Tri County Middle School students sued the school district on Tuesday for viewpoint discrimination after they were forced to remove sweatshirts they wore to school that featured the phrase “Let’s Go Brandon” in February 2022.

‘Let’s Go Brandon’ is an infamous phrase meant to be critical of President Joe Biden. It originated at a NASCAR race. While a race car driver, whose first name is Brandon, was being interviewed by a reporter on the track after a race, the crowd began chanting, “F*ck Joe Biden.” The chant was so loud the reporter had to address it but claimed the crowd was chanting “Let’s Go Brandon.” in support of the driver to move on.

According to FIRE, the assistant principal and a teacher “ordered the boys to remove the sweatshirts” with this “Let’s Go Brandon” for allegedly breaking the dress code. At the same time, the school permitted students to don other politically-charged apparel like “gay-pride-themed hoodies.”

“The incident is part of a pattern of political favoritism by the school district.” the FIRE report on the subject said, “When the school district relaxed the dress code for field day, a school administrator ordered a student to stop wearing a Trump flag as a cape, but permitted other students to wear gay pride flags in the same manner.”

This, FIRE said in the complaint, demonstrates  that school officials “are censoring students who try to express support for former President Donald Trump or opposition to President Joe Biden.”

The school will likely argue that due to the phrase’s origin in profanity, it can be barred, despite not involving any profanity in itself.

FIRE attorney Conor Fitzpatrick dismissed this defense in a FIRE report about the incident.

“The slogan exists as a way to express an anti-Biden message without using profanity. A public school district cannot censor speech just because it might cause someone to think about a swear word.”

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This case parallels the landmark Supreme Court decision Tinker v. Des Moines, where students were penalized for wearing simple black armbands in silent protest of the Vietnam War. In their filing, FIRE emphasizes this reality and that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the students.

 

“The Supreme Court clearly established more than 50 years ago that the First Amendment protects peaceful, nondisruptive political speech at school. America’s students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

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