A former high school student says he had a free-speech right to wear Marilyn Manson T-shirts to class. But school officials banned them as offensive, and on Monday, the student lost a Supreme Court appeal.
The court, without comment, turned down the Ohio student’s argument that school officials could not keep him from wearing T-shirts depicting Manson, a “shock rock” star who took his stage name from Marilyn Monroe and mass killer Charles Manson.
Nicholas J. Boroff was a senior when he arrived at Van Wert High School in Van Wert, Ohio, in August 1997 wearing a Marilyn Manson T-shirt. The front of the shirt depicted a three-faced Jesus and the back of the shirt said “believe” with the letters “lie” highlighted. A school administrator told Boroff the shirt was offensive and told him to either turn it inside out, go home and change, or leave and be considered truant. Boroff left, and returned each of the next four school days wearing other Marilyn Manson T-shirts. Each time he was told he could not attend class wearing the shirt.
Boroff sued, saying school officials violated his constitutional rights to free speech and due process. A federal judge ruled for the school district, and the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.