The Leal case

Michael Leal was a student in the Everett school system.  At times he shared his Christian faith and the school suspended him 5 times, claiming that his conduct was disruptive to the learning environment of the school.

Leal and lawyers for him and his family sued and they won at least in part.  The school was instructed to clear his disciplinary record as if the suspensions had never happened.  Leal was told he has permission to share the gospel, though the school has some ability to restrict when and where.

News websites describe the decision as a victory for Leal, though I do not see how it was that different from the situation before the decision, other than clearing the disciplinary record.

Two things we learn from the Leal and Tinker cases are: 1) the school is not always right; and 2) Sometimes it takes suing or disagreeing vigorously to find out.  In some cases, it is not always obvious how the courts might rule.

If you have an important cause or idea, others will help “you,” to sue.  If your cause is of lesser significance, then, you may have learn and do more yourself.

Back in the Vietnam War years, there was a case that went to the US Supreme Court.  It was Cohen v. California.  California had convicted Cohen for wearing a jacket that said on it Fuck the Draft.  California claimed that this was disruptive to something, somehow.

The case went all the way to the US Supreme court and the Supreme court made an important decision that became an important free speech precedent.  The Supreme court overturned the conviction and gave reasoning that has become part of many other decisions.

The US Supreme Court said that this question of Cohen may seem to be trifling and unimportant, but they considered it to bring forth and show important constitutional free speech issues.


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