It is somewhat ironic that out of hundreds of valley campuses, the Clark County School District’s four-year legal battle over school uniform policies and students’ First Amendment rights centers around Liberty High School.
In 2004, Liberty junior Kimberly Jacobs alleged the school was a sanctuary for tyranny, filing a federal lawsuit over her multiple suspensions for dress-code violations.
On Monday, the liberal 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court decision against Ms. Jacobs, declaring the school’s attire requirements did not violate her constitutional rights. Let’s hope the ruling will finally settle an overblown matter that never should have reached the country’s busiest circuit court.
Liberty High School’s dress code required students to wear khaki pants and a plain red, white or blue shirt. Ms. Jacobs chose to push the limits of the attire standards by repeatedly wearing a T-shirt with a religious message.
Had she been disciplined for wearing the shirt in a school with no uniform policy, where students could wear clothing with all manner of printed words and expressions, the school district obviously would be on dangerous ground. A school dress code cannot allow some forms of expression but censor others based on content — particularly religious content.
But Ms. Jacobs was not singled out. Every Liberty student who deviated from the school’s dress code faced punishment, whether they were wearing hot pink leggings, a black turtleneck or a jersey from their favorite professional sports team.
No newspaper in this country defends the Bill of Rights more vociferously than this one. But the idea that a modest dress code in a public high school — applying equally to all students — violates the Bill of Rights is misguided.
However, the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of Ms. Jacobs, isn’t going to drop its appeal. “We will do a petition for rehearing,” ACLU attorney Allen Lichtenstein said.
That’s unfortunate. Ms. Jacobs moved on from the school district and this issue years ago. It’s time for the ACLU to do the same.