Protecting Free Speech in Public Schools

i love boobies purple bracelet

A divided 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Aug. 5 ruled in favor of two middle school students who wore “I [HEART] Boobies” bracelets to school in support of breast cancer awareness. The court said the school district violated their free speech rights by banning the bracelets and suspending the girls.

Students Stand Up for Rights

Kayla Martinez and Brianna Hawk, seventh and eighth graders, respectively, at Easton Area Middle School in 2010, bought the rubber bracelets from the Keep a Breast Foundation with their mothers, in order to commemorate family members and friends they’d lost to breast cancer, according to the opinion.

After a few weeks of teachers noticing female students wearing the bracelets, according to the opinion, the school decided to prohibit bracelets containing the word “boobies,” although it encouraged students to wear other items in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, such as the traditional pink ribbons.

Martinez and Hawk were ordered to remove their bracelets on the school’s Breast Cancer Awareness Day. They refused and were suspended. The entire school district then banned the bracelets.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania sued the school district in November 2010 on behalf of Martinez and Hawk. In April 2011, a federal judge enjoined the school from enforcing the ban, according to the ACLU, and the full 3rd Circuit agreed to hear the case – a move that signals an important case.

Read the full story here.

8th grader arrested over NRA t-shirt – BizPac Review


An 8th grade student in West Virginia was arrested and taken to jail for wearing a National Rifle Association (NRA) t-shirt to school.

Jared Marcum had no idea the trouble that awaited him as he got dressed for school on Thursday morning, or that his pro-Second Amendment shirt would launch a fight over his First Amendment rights, the local CBS affiliate reported.

“I never thought it would go this far because honestly I don’t see a problem with this, there shouldn’t be a problem with this,” Jared told WOWK-TV.

His t-shirt has an image of a gun printed on it and that was enough to get him suspended from Logan Middle School, arrested and facing two charges, obstruction and disturbing the education process.

Jared’s father Allen Lardieri had to rush from work to pick his son up from jail over something he says was blown out of proportion, according to WOWK-TV.

“I don’t’ see how anybody would have an issue with a hunting rifle and NRA put on a t-shirt, especially when policy doesn’t forbid it,” Lardieri said.

As noted in the report, the school’s dress code policy prohibits clothing that displays profanity, violence, discriminatory messages and more but nowhere in the document does it say anything about gun images.

via 8th grader arrested over NRA t-shirt – BizPac Review.

5 Year old threatened with 2 week suspension for playing with legos…..Yes, it’s only a lego.

I am appalled a the school official’s explanation that “they are just trying to create a culture of respect.”  WHAT???  Are we teaching our kids to accept that insanity is the norm?  What about teaching our kids reasonability and how to tell the difference.

Teaching a child to fear simple play is tragic when play is now confined to “appropriate ….Lego play.”  Really???

I understand that what happened in recent events has many people up in arms (no pun intended), but to take something so tragic and make it even worse by taking it to a level of absurdity is truly a miscarriage of justice to our own children.

We should be teaching our children the concept of reasonability instead of insanity!

Hendry Citizens Don’t Show Up For Jury Duty

 November 11, 2012 –

LABELLE, FL. — You don’t have to show up for jury duty Hendry County citizens have been finding out for years. The Hendry County, Florida County and Circuit Court jury pool system is broken and authorities don’t know how to fix it.

Even County Judge James Sloan says “Jury duty to many people has become a joke, but there is no one laughing.” Except maybe those who have found they don’t have to show up anymore for Hendry jury duty.

Southwest Florida Online has been reporting on low turnout for jury duty since March 2007 when the Clerk’s office sent out 450 summonses for jury duty and only 60 people showed up, about 13% of those sent letters in the mail.

Read full story at

Watch: As voters head to polls, reports of problems start pouring in | The Ticket – Yahoo! News

By Lylah M. Alphonse, Yahoo! News

An unexpected glitch almost caused one central Pennsylvania voter to cast his ballot for the wrong candidate, highlighting concerns about voter fraud on an already tense election day.

“I initially selected Obama but Romney was highlighted,” writes Centralpavote on YouTube. “I assumed it was being picky so I de-selected Romney and tried Obama again, this time more carefully, and still got Romney.”

A software developer, he tried troubleshooting the screen. “I first thought the calibration was off and tried selecting Jill Stein to actually highlight Obama. Nope. Jill Stein was selected just fine. Next I de-selected her and started at the top of Romney’s name and started tapping very closely together to find the ‘active areas.’ From the top of Romney’s button down to the bottom of the black checkbox beside Obama’s name was all active for Romney.”

A few more taps and he discovered that the only way to select Obama was to click on a small sliver of the screen. All of the buttons for the other candidates seemed to work fine.

Other voters at the precinct didn’t have the same problem, he said, and the volunteer didn’t seem concerned. “She him hawed for a bit then calmly said, ‘It’s nothing to worry about, everything will be OK,’ and went back to what she was doing,” he wrote. “I then recorded this video.”

Read the full story via Watch: As voters head to polls, reports of problems start pouring in | The Ticket – Yahoo! News.

Americans vote after long and bitter campaign for White House – Yahoo! News

By Matt Spetalnick and John Whitesides | Reuters1 hr 33 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney battled down to the wire on Tuesday, mounting a last-minute Election Day drive to get their supporters to the polls in a handful of states that will decide the winner in a neck-and-neck race for the White House.

Capping a long and bitter campaign, Americans began casting their votes at polling stations across the country. At least 120 million people were expected to render judgment on whether to give Obama a second term or replace him with Romney.

Their decision will set the country’s course for the next four years on spending, taxes, healthcare and foreign policy challenges like the rise of China and Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

National opinion polls show Obama and Romney in a virtual dead heat, although the Democratic incumbent has a slight advantage in several vital swing states – most notably Ohio – that could give him the 270 electoral votes needed to win the state-by-state contest.

Romney, the multimillionaire former head of a private equity firm, would be the first Mormon president and one of the wealthiest Americans to occupy the White House. Obama, the first black president, is vying to be the first Democrat to win a second term since Bill Clinton in 1996.

Whichever candidate wins, a razor-thin margin would not bode well for the clear mandate needed to break the partisan gridlock in Washington.

Read full story via Americans vote after long and bitter campaign for White House – Yahoo! News.

Charlie Crist: Rick Scott’s Refusal To Extend Florida Early Voting Is ‘Indefensible’

WASHINGTON — Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) sharply criticized Gov. Rick Scott (R) on Sunday for his refusal to extend early voting hours in the state as individuals waited for hours in lines at the polls. Read the full story at: Charlie Crist: Rick Scott’s Refusal To Extend Florida Early Voting Is ‘Indefensible’.

Don’t Let Mitt Turn Back Time On Women – YouTube

I try not to post hot button issues but this one has struck a chord with so many women. It is a difficult topic to discuss for everyone because everyone carries polar emotions regarding rape and abortion.  However, an issue that faces not just women but every human being that is involved.  This issue does not belong in elections; it belongs and should remain in our own moral compasses.  The freedom to choose is a basic right of personhood.  The freedom to choose is encompassed in who we are as Americans.  A political circus is not the place to discuss these issues nor is it appropriate to sweep under the rug until the next election.  It is an issue that must be addressed and put to bed so that it does not victimize the innocent.

A child is truly a gift.  However, pregnancy and its termination in the instance of rape is also a gift, a gift of choice.  A gift to never again be a victim of her attacker.  If a victim of rape “decides” to bring her child into the world, it should be her choice and no one else’s.  That choice also comes with a terrifying result, which sentences the victim and the unwitting child to a parent relationship with her attacker. Sexual crimes are horrible and the history of sexual offenders prove they do not stop at just one attack.  Soon the child will be a victim of the same attacker if mandated to be a parent to his victim’s child.

I certainly would not want my child to have any kind of relationship with a sexual offender.  Yet family courts, still struggle with this issue and have not found a balance (perhaps, in these cases there is no balance to be made).  Nonetheless, the attacker is a father and with that status comes fatherly rights and obligations.  However, to remove a father from his parental status, the mother of such a child must re-live her sexual attack over and over throughout a long process of family court.  The mother is victimized not just once but over and over and over again.  The mother is sentenced to life of constant contact with her attacker.  The attacker is sentenced to be a father who can now use and victimize his own child to use as a weapon against the mother or worse.

Yes.  This issue is a hot button issue but it is also an issue no one can afford to ignore!

Don’t Let Mitt Turn Back Time On Women – YouTube.

Florida House Representative Matt Hudson Visits the Hodges Naples Campus (2008)

Florida House Representative Matt Hudson visited Hodges University’s Naples campus to engage students about Florida’s legislative process on Thursday, February 28th, 2008.  Students of Dr. Jackreeces’ American Government class, the Fort Myers Legal Society, and ICUF Presidential Fellow Mary Cosmo met with Representative Matt Hudson.  Students from the Ft. Myers campus also logged on for a live podcast  to ask questions during the visit.

Representative Hudson spoke on many topics, such as the current budgeting issues, the cuts we may be facing including FRAG, the process where a bill originates and how it may be passed.  He also walked students through Florida’s excellent website ( and showed students how they can follow a bill through each step, as well as challenged students to be engaged throughout this very important process.  At you can find a lot of other useful information about your representative, what bills they have previously voted on, personal background information, which committee your representative sits on, and much more.

Representative Hudson’s constituent area consist of parts of eastern Collier and the western portion of Broward County.  Hudson was elected to the Florida House of Representatives on November 20, 2007.  He is on the Economic Development Committee, Health Quality Committee, and Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee.  As Hudson spoke to students he challenged them with one question each: if they could change one thing about Florida what would it be? Students’ answers ranged from traffic and I-75 issues, FRAG, FCAT testing, healthcare issues, to Nuclear generation and waste issues.

Hudson was scheduled to visit for just a half hour, but with so much student engagement he end up staying almost two hours answering each question, all of relevant importance. He also challenged Dr. Jackreeces’ class to write a press release of a current bill he will be introducing.  It was a great visit where local government and students could openly be engaged in a relaxed environment that is sure to inspire more of this type of engagement in the future.

-Mary Cosmo©2008

Hodges University’s Panther Press

ICUF Presidential Fellow

Ft Myers Legal Society President