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The Contender
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Resolved: High school dress code restrictions should include prohibitions on Satanic clothing.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/29/2012 Category: Society
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,401 times Debate No: 24915
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (3)
Votes (1)




The first round is for acceptance on the resolution.


I accept.

"Dress is at all times a frivolous distinction, and excessive solicitude about it often destroys its own aim." Jane Austen
Debate Round No. 1


In this debate, I must negate the resolution and stand on the CON. Before continuing, I'd like to address one thing not mentioned in the wording of the resolution. This debate was inspired by an event occurring in the state of New Mexico, so for the sake of practicality and adequacy, this debate should be construed to the context of the United States and the civil liberties provided therein. With this said, I move on toward the iteration of my case.

These dress code restrictions violate the First Amendment specifically because they inhibit the free exercise of a religion, hinder free speech with no warrant, and implicitly favors another religion with the establishment of a double-standard. Henceforth, these restrictions are unconstitutional and should not be implemented.


Contention: These dress code restrictions violate the First Amendment.
The following is the legal definition of what is considered to be a religion: "The Supreme Court has interpreted religion to mean a sincere and meaningful belief that occupies in the life of its possessor a place parallel to the place held by God in the lives of other persons. The religion or religious concept need not include belief in the existence of God or a supreme being to be within the scope of the First Amendment." [1] Because Satanism fits within the line of this description, it is legally a religion protected by the First Amendment.

Sub-point 1a: These restrictions violate the Free Exercise Clause.
The religious aspect of the First Amendment is the following: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." [1] Because these restrictions inhibit the free expression of a religious garment, it inherently violates this part of the First Amendment.

Sub-point 1b: These restrictions do not include other religious garments.
These restrictions are specifically for Satanism, meaning that other religions are held over this particular one. This violates the Equal Protection Clause and Establishment Clause because of the discriminatory nature.



Evaluating the Resolution:

This is a debate which hinges on the First Amendment rights of students while they attend public schools, and the duties of schools to facilitate environments conducive to the educational process.

Only if this were a specific trial involving a specific school restriction to a specific student under a specific circumstance would it be necessary to demonstrate that such a material interference had transpired. This debate, rather than applying to a specified case as described above, involves the application of a general limitation on state behavior which may have the potential to interfere with the school’s duty to promote an environment conducive to the educational process.

Because this is resolution which involves the application of a general rule which may limit the power of schools to facilitate environments conducive to the educational process, it is therefore only appropriate to theoretically entertain the notion that the wearing of clothing of any controversial variety (satanic or otherwise) may have the potential to interfere with the educational process, rather than demonstrate that such an interference has, in fact, occurred.

Contention 1) Public schools may prohibit behavior that materially or substantially interferes with the educational process.

There are two competing issues at stake in this resolution. Just as in the case of Tinker v. Des Moines 393 U.S. 503 (1969), “our problem lies in the area where students in the exercise of First Amendment rights collide with the rules of the school authorities”

Upholding an earlier precedent from Burnside v. Byars, 336 F. 2d. 744, at 749 (1966) in Tinker, the Supreme Court of the United States held that where student apparel "materially and substantially interfere[s] with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school," the school’s interest in facilitating a necessarily stable environment conducive to the educational process overwhelms the first amendment rights of students.

This is in keeping with the general principle with the earlier precedent established in Meyer v. Nebraska (later upheld and later reflected in Epperson v. Arkansas) which emphasized that the first amendment allows for, pursuant to certain safeguards, school authorities enjoy a broad latitude to establish parameters for student conduct in pursuit of that objective, 262 U.S. 390, at 402 (1923).

Therefore, when in conflict, where student behavior has the potential to demonstrably interfere with the educational process, the Supreme Court has consistently held the constitutionally permissible authority of school officials to restrict student first amendment rights. This is the case because, although “students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate” (Tinker, supra), the First Amendment does not provide students with a carte blanche liberty to materially or substantially interfere with the educational process.

Contention 2) Where the state can show that the wearing of Satanic clothing materially and substantially interferes with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school, restrictions on such behavior may be constitutionally imposed.

In Tinker by Justice Potter Stewart mirrored the principle extended in Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158, which delineated the rights of children (or students) in questions of first amendment rights, stating that a “state may permissibly determine that... a child... is not possessed of that full capacity for... First Amendment guarantees." to the same extent as an adult citizen may be constitutionally entitled, at 649-650.

As such, it is necessary to evaluate questions of student 1st amend. rights with considerable skepticism because, pursuant to the rule established in Burnside, “In order for the State... to justify prohibition of a particular expression... it must be able to show that its action was caused by something more than a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint” by demonstrating that the conduct in question which is forbidden "materially and substantially interfere[s] with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school." Burnside at 749 (1966)

That students’ wearing of satanic clothing may have the potential to materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline necessary to facilitate an environment conducive to the educational process is beyond contention, because such a possibility cannot be extinguished beyond all reasonable consideration.

Contention 3) The state’s interest in promoting an environment conducive to the educational process does not violate the free exercize clause.

While the wearing of specified clothing may be associated with certain religions (such as the Hijab is associated with Islam) or cultural norms, while on schoolhouse grounds students do not enjoy the carte blanche liberty to wear clothing which may materially or substantially interferes with the educational process, pursuant to the authorities cited above including Tinker, Burnside, and Epperson.

While if an adult’s first amendment rights were in question it would be appropriate to examine certain limitations on said rights with higher scrutiny, because children are not necessarily entitled to the same degree of first amendment protections as adults, it is hardly appropriate to entertain the notion that children enjoy untenable first amendment guarantees. see Prince, 321 U.S. 158.

The schoolhouse, pursuant to the rule established in Prince, ranks among the locations where student first amendment rights may be constitutionally restricted in the event of a material or substantial disturbance to the educational process.

However, it is necessary to recognize that under no circumstances would a student’s right to practice any religion of their choosing (beyond the halls of the school house) would be in any way limited by any theoretical prohibition on specified apparel choices.

To evaluate wether a particular rule presents a religious discrimination, the Supreme Court established a three prong test in Lemon v. Kurtzman 403 U.S. 602 (1971). The test is as follows

1) The government's action must have a secular legislative purpose

2) The government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion

3) The government's action must not result in an "excessive government entanglement" with religion

Where a general rule prohibited the wearing of clothing which, pursuant to the rule again established in Tinker, substantially or materially infringed on the educational process, if satanic clothing were observed to infringe on the educational process, then the first prong of the lemon test would be satisfied because the school’s interesting in facilitating said environment is necessarily secular.

If satanic clothing were to be inadvertently restricted by such a general rule, the students’ right to practice their chosen religion would neither be advanced or inhibited, because the rule itself was not specifically engineered with the purpose of limiting the free exercise of religion, but rather with promoting the (secular) interest of the school outlined above.

Because government is neither sponsoring or prohibiting any specified religion, no excessive entanglement can be said to exist.








Debate Round No. 2


Judges, you are about to see the most pithy rebuttal DDO has probably ever seen. This is in part by the fact that pretty much most of my opponent's arguments make complete sense. Inadvertedly, my opponent has actually provided the increase in structure that my case needed in order to present the limitations of the freedom of speech. My opponent provides a legitimate case with Supreme Court rulings that substantiate his claim. However, going toward his Contentions 1 and 2, he fails to answer in his contentions his own million-dollar question: Does Satanic clothing materially and substantially interfere? My opponent provides the Supreme Court cases which would justify the elimination of Satanic clothing but never proves the significant interference nor the heaviness of its possibility.


I’m glad that my opponent and I agree that my case makes complete sense, although I’m baffled as to why he so willingly admits that.

The resolution reads: “Resolved: High school dress code restrictions should include prohibitions on Satanic clothing.”

To argue this case, my opponent has the burden to prove that such a restriction is infeasible. I only have to prove that such a probation would be feasible, as a general principle. The reason that I do not have to prove that satanic clothing would materially or substantially interfere with the educational process is because to make such a determination would require a specific case that actually happened. It is not my responsibility to argue that invariably, in every circumstance, student’s wearing of satanic clothing does, in fact, materially and substantially interfere because to prove that would require empirical analysis of specified circumstances in given schools. This is a burden both improper for the resolution and for DDO.

Because the resolution is about the components of what high school dress codes should or should not include, my only burden is the prove that restrictions on satanic clothing are theoretically permissible (and I have). Because my opponent grounded his arguments in the law, I responded in kind. I demonstrated that rather than being precluded by the constitution, US law actually protects the right of schools to impose regulations on what a student may or may not wear. As such, I have met my burden of proof.

My opponent now wishes to elevate my burden in such a way that cannot be met. By definition, his question functions as a red herring because it distracts from the original clash of the debate. Contrary to my opponent’s assertion, the wording of my case was entirely deliberate and chosen specifically to meet the burden carried.

The implications of his argument necessarily restrict what a school may do to facilitate the educational process, the burden is contrarily on him to establish how wearing of satanic clothing would not materially or substantially interfere with student learning in every situation. Because my opponent is limiting what a given school may do to meet the unique needs of its student body, and because the state has a compelling interest in promoting the education of children throughout our nation, it is therefore necessary that he establish how limiting the capacity of a school to perform its societal function is appropriate.

Unless or until my opponent does that, he fails to meet his burden of proof.

Debate Round No. 3


ScarletGhost4396 forfeited this round.


Extend all arguments.
Debate Round No. 4


ScarletGhost4396 forfeited this round.


Extend all arguments, again.

Peace and Love,

Debate Round No. 5
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by YYW 4 years ago
I'm quite flattered, 16k. Thanks!
Posted by 16kadams 4 years ago
Of course they make sense. YYW is brilliant.
Posted by YYW 4 years ago
I have my argument typed and ready, just need to edit later. Will post it this evening.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Magicr 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: FFs