Update in Wisconsin School Speech Case in Today's FPC Daily 2A Legal Update


In today's FPC legal update, we have and update from a case brought by Wisconsin public school students who want to wear clothing depicting guns.

N.J. v. Sonnabend

Issue: Speech

Court: Seventh Circuit

Action: Brief of appellants

In this case, two public school students in Wisconsin are suing for their right to wear "clothing that depicts firearms in a non-violent, non-threatening manner." In May, a district court judge ruled in favor of the schools, saying that "the schools’ ban on clothing bearing images of firearms is viewpoint neutral" and "[a]s long as school officials offer reasonable explanations for viewpoint neutral restrictions in student dress codes, courts should not second guess their decisions."

The students' brief argues that the Seventh Circuit should reverse the district court's opinion, saying that the court "should have considered only whether the Shirts were indecent, lewd, or vulgar, promoted illegal drug use, or were likely to lead to falling test scores or increased truancy." The brief also argues that the school's regulations were not viewpoint neutral, saying that one of the defendants "explicitly testified that part of the problem with the WCI Shirt was that the name of the organization, Wisconsin Carry, Inc., itself was unacceptable." In addition, the brief notes that the policy is anti-gun in practice, explaining that many pro-gun organizations have firearms in their logos, while those for anti-gun organizations do not. The schools will now have an opportunity to respond to today's brief.