We first brought you coverage of this story back in April, and as shocking as it was, I’d assumed we’d pretty much heard the end of it. In case you missed it, here’s the short recap:
When 8th grade Jared Marcum got dressed for school on Thursday he says he had no idea that his pro-Second Amendment shirt would initiate what he calls a fight over his First Amendment rights.
It was the image of a gun printed on Jared’s t-shirt that sparked a dispute between a Logan Middle School teacher and Jared, that ended with Jared suspended, arrested and facing two charges, obstruction and disturbing the education process, on his otherwise spotless record.
By the end of the story, Jared was back in school and his parents were working with local authorities to get this incredibly stupid exercise in oppression off of his record. That should have been the end of it, but apparently the local powers that be are planning to take this situation to its illogical extreme.
Suspended and arrested after refusing to change his NRA shirt. Today, 14-year-old Jared Marcum appeared before a judge and was officially charged with obstructing an officer.
A $500 fine and up to a year in jail, that’s the penalty that Jared could face, now that a judge has allowed the prosecution to move forward with it’s obstructing an officer charge against him.
“Me, I’m more of a fighter and so is Jared and eventually we’re going to get through this,” Jared’s father Allen Lardieri said. “I don’t think it should have ever gotten this far.”
Jared’s dad is being a lot more calm and reasonable about this than I think I could manage, but that’s probably to the boy’s benefit. At this point, the “defense” is still treating it as a misinterpretation of school policy, and not some sort of civil rights violation. But if it goes much further, it’s not hard to imagine them bringing that aspect of it up in court. And if they do, the state is going to have a hard time sending Jared up the river. Our resident legal analyst, Doug Mataconis of Outside the Beltway, has already done the digging and found that the Supreme Court came down on Jared’s side some time ago.
In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District 393 U.S. 501 (1969), the Court deal with the case of a group of students who were disciplined for taking part in a protest related to the Vietnam War by wearing black armbands to school. In its decision, the Court held that the student’s right to express their political beliefs as protected by the First Amendment outweighed any argument the school could make that its actions were necessary to keep discipline and order in the school:
The school officials banned and sought to punish petitioners for a silent, passive expression of opinion, unaccompanied by any disorder or disturbance on the part of petitioners. There is here no evidence whatever of petitioners’ interference, actual or nascent, with the schools’ work or of collision with the rights of other students to be secure and to be let alone. Accordingly, this case does not concern speech or action that intrudes upon the work of the schools or the rights of other students.
The full details of the court’s decision, along with Doug’s comments on this piece of legal insanity, are available at the link. In the meantime, I suppose we’ll have to deal with yet another side show as this all drags out. You might think that in this “enlightened age” of free speech, something like this would never come up, but apparently you’d be wrong. I can understand the officials at one relatively small middle school flying off the beam for a bit and blundering into this sort of error, but once the public spotlight was on the case, one would hope that the legal system would notice and shut it down. But now they’re setting themselves up for public embarrassment on a national level. And for the cherry on top, this is all happening on Joe Manchin’s home turf, just as he’s facing another battle in the public opinion polls over his gun control mistakes.
Break out the popcorn.