Students at Waxahachie High School who want to wear politically oriented T-shirts didn’t get any help today from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel of the New Orleans-based appeals court affirmed a lower court’s ruling that went against Paul T. Palmer, who sued the Waxahachie Independent School District after the then-sophomore wasn’t permitted in 2007 to wear a John Edwards '08 T-shirt because it violated the dress code. In 2008, Palmer and his parents filed Palmer v. WISD, which challenged provisions of the school district’s dress code that kept Palmer from attending class unless he took off his Edwards T-shirt. U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn of the Northern District of Texas denied Palmer’s request for a preliminary injunction, and found he did not show that he would suffer irreparable harm because of the dress code. Today, in an opinion written by 5th Circuit Judge Jerry Smith and joined by Judges Patrick Higginbotham and Leslie Southwick, the panel affirmed Lynn’s ruling. The panel found Lynn did not abuse her discretion by denying the preliminary injunction, and found that the school district’s dress code is “content-neutral.” Allyson Ho, a partner in Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in Houston who argued the appeal before the 5th Circuit for Palmer and his parents, did not immediately return a telephone message. Neither did Sara Leon, a shareholder in Powell & Leon, who handled oral arguments for the school district.
-- Brenda Sapino Jeffreys