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First amendment protects breast cancer bracelets

The school district in Easton, Pennsylvania, agreed to pay $385,000 in attorney's fees to the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania after it lost an appeal concerning students wearing breast cancer awareness bracelets with the words "I (heart) Boobies!" written on them.

The U.S. supreme court ended four years of litigation by recently rejecting an appeal by the district, leaving the previous federal ruling unchanged, reported the Associated Press. The claim that the bracelets were "plainly lewd" was not substantiated by federal judges, and they found the bracelet to have caused no harm. The suit was filed in 2010 when two middle school girls were suspended for a day and a half for refusing the principal's order to take the bracelets off. The girls were also prohibited from attending a school dance.

First amendment rights were violated
The Keep a Breast Foundation distributed the bracelets on school premises. After the girls were suspended, the ACLU intervened and argued that the punishments were in violation of the free speech rights of the two middle school girls under the constitution.

Attorney for the ACLU, Mary Catherine Roper, represented the two bracelet-wearing teens, arguing that the word "boobies" is harmless. She made a statement in which the school district was chastised for being small-minded, reported the Journal Sentinel. 

"The school district has this fixation that boys can't handle anything… The school district attorney talks about this boiling cauldron of hormones that happens to be in seventh and eighth grade," Roper said to The Daily Caller.

The Easton school district lost two times – in district court and an appeal with the third circuit. Easton area solicitor John Freund tried taking the case to the Supreme Court, but he did not receive any exceptional consideration to previous rulings.

The settlement reached will require the Easton area school district to pay the amount in three installments over the next year, the news source added.

The fact that this case went to court in the first place clearly demonstrates that some people do not understand the implications of the first amendment. If a bracelet appears to be lewd or inappropriate, but does not cause any actual harm, then it is protected by constitutional law. It should have been clear to the Easton school district that those two middle school girls had done nothing wrong, and in this case, were simply promoting breast cancer awareness.

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