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Sam, you made the pants too low

April 15, 2011 |  9:18 am

Baggy Pants

A Florida legislator's attempt to ban the wearing of baggy pants in school will be the stuff of late-night comedy monologues, especially language in his bill outlawing the exposure of "body parts." (Lucky he isn't in France.)

But the baggy-pants controversy also is the stuff of a law school exam.

In 1969, the Supreme Court upheld the right of schoolchildren to wear black armbands in school as a protest against the war in Vietnam. Does that decision provide an opening for the baggy-pants brigade? First you'd have to come up with a message that is supposedly being communicated by this low-riding. Urban alienation? A critique of mainstream culture?

Another question on the test would be whether the low-riders could make an equal-protection case. Indeed, the ACLU is already on the case, noting that a disproportionate number of kids wearing their pants low are minorities. (The sponsor of the bill, who is black, insists that "white kids do it" too.)

Finally, there is the question of religious freedom. Don't the pants reflect a value system? Is the school discriminating against low-riders but embracing the gospel of conformity symbolized by a dress shirt and khaki pants raised up high enough to conceal underwear.

Write a brief supporting the kids who wear their pants low. You have 90 minutes.


Florida close to passing 'baggy pants' bill

-- Michael McGough

Photo: Students wearing baggy clothing at Granada Hills High School. Credit: Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times / September 11, 2002

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