Is Fresno School’s MAGA Hat Ban Unconstitutional? The Courts Will Decide.

There’s no doubt that the red “Make America Great Again” hat has become one of the most powerful — even divisive — symbols in American politics and culture today. But do students have a constitutionally protected right to don the evocative caps at school? That’s a question going before the courts.

Maddie Mueller, a senior at Clovis North High School in Fresno, is suing the Clovis Unified School District over a policy that bans MAGA hats and other attire with certain logos.

“To my knowledge, Trump is not a logo. It’s a last name. It’s just our president, you can’t claim the president is a logo, sports team, or affiliated with any gang,” said Mueller, who claims the ban is violation of her First Amendment right to free speech (Vox). “How is being a patriot in trying to show pride in your country — how is that inappropriate?”

Kelly Avants, chief communication officer for the district, counters that making the school a safe and distraction-free place for learning remains its top priority.

A similar controversy erupted at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill back in 2010 when school officials, fearful about an outbreak of potential violence, forbade students from wearing American flag apparel on Cinco de Mayo. A district court later dismissed a lawsuit brought by the kids who wanted to wear the USA apparel, citing a reasonable fear of disruption. In 2014, the ruling was upheld by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals. 

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