U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit Chief Judge Theodore McKee, a member of the Temple University board of trustees, gave a public presentation Feb. 21 at the Fox School of Business on the topic of free speech in education.
McKee, who visited the Fox School in his capacity as the Department of Legal Studies’ Law Scholar in Residence, attracted a standing-room-only crowd to the Alter Hall Undergraduate Commons for his discussion, which focused on a number of federal rulings related to free speech in the context of education.
Specifically, he discussed the “I Love Boobies” bracelet case from the Easton Area School District in which middle-school girls wore the bracelets to school to promote breast cancer awareness. After the school principal announced a prohibition of the bracelets, the girls, after consulting with their parents, again wore them to school and were suspended. McKee’s court recently ruled that banning the students from donning the pink bracelets is an unconstitutional restriction of free speech. The Easton school board has authorized an appeal of the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Throughout his presentation, McKee discussed the conflict that can arise between educational institutions’ ability to maintain order and the legal protections of freedom of expression.
President Bill Clinton nominated McKee to the Third Circuit in 1994, and he was elevated to chief judge in 2010. He has served on the Temple board of trustees for 12 years. Before joining the U.S. Court of Appeals, McKee served in public and private practice in Philadelphia, including as a judge on the city’s Court of Common Pleas.