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Federal judge allows Hitler Youth image on school uniform protest buttons

[JURIST] A federal judge ruled Thursday that two New Jersey students can protest against a school uniform policy [policy information and text] by wearing buttons that depict uniform-clad Hitler Youth [Britannica backgrounder]. Judge Joseph A. Greenaway Jr. of the District of New Jersey [official website] relied on the 1969 Supreme Court decision in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District [text] that allowed Iowa students to wear black arm bands in protest of the Vietnam War. Greenaway said that unless the school "has reason to believe that the speech or expression will 'materially and substantially disrupt the work and discipline of the school,'" students may not be punished for expressing their views.

Although the image on the buttons, used as a background to the text "No School Uniforms," does not contain a swastika, administrators in the Bayonee School District [district website] threatened the students with suspension, saying the image of the Hitler Youth conveyed intolerance and racism. Parents of the students filed the lawsuit, arguing that the school violated the students' free speech rights. Greenaway's ruling allowed the students to wear the buttons, but noted that the school could forbid them from distributing the buttons on campus. AP has more.

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