There’s a lot here in this story. There’s a couple of fifteen year old girls who were barred from handing out breast cancer awareness bracelets by their school district. There’s the much debated trend in breast cancer awareness campaigns to skew to a focus on the sexual appeal of breasts rather than the saving of lives as the motivating factor. There’s the parents who thought that this was a violation of their daughters’ First Amendment rights that was worth taking it all the way to a federal appeals court.
But mostly, there’s the undeniably delightful idea that a Supreme Court justice of America might say the word “boobies” on the record during a session.
In 2010, twelve and thirteen year-old students of a Pennsylvania school district defied a schoolwide ban on rubber bracelets inscribed with the phrase “I ♥︎ boobies” in order to hand them out on their school’s Breast Cancer Awareness day, and were suspended. They, or at least their parents, with the help of an ACLU lawyer, filed suit. It’s the position of the school district that the slogan is “cause-based marketing energized by sexual double-entendres,” that create “a hyper-sexualized environment,” while the girls’ attorney’s maintain that their First Amendment rights were infringed upon. So far, courts have agreed, saying that the school district has failed to prove that the bracelets were actually disruptive to the school environment.
The latest courtroom defeat comes from the Third Circuit Court, which means that if the school district wishes to pursue another appeal, as they have hinted, they’d be petitioning the Supreme Court to hear their case. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they will get heard: the Supreme Court could decide, as it does with many other cases, that there’s no reason for them to weigh in on it. In that case, the ruling of the Third Circuit Court would stand.
But there is a slight chance that this case will mean that some people, eventually, will get to hear Ruth Bader Ginsberg or Antonin Scalia say “boobies.” And while I have a lot of conflicting feelings about the details of this case, that fact is certainly a brightener of my day.
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