Constitutional Law Professor Jeffrey G. Purvis, San Joaquin College of Law

There are write-in advice and answer columns in hundreds of newspapers, magazines, and blogs, addressing every conceivable topic. But how many of these openly address fabricated e-mails from "audience" members who are admittedly imaginary? Only one! "Valley Views on the Law," San Joaquin College of Law's monthly legal information radio show on FM 88.1. KFCF, in Fresno, does just that. In the "Dear Professors" segment, I answer the pressing and topical legal questions generated by my own perfervid imagination (along with one actual e-mail from an actual listener) every month, for the edification of the audience. You can also send me an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Here is a recent one preceding a discussion of a dress code debate at a local school district.


I'm a senior citizen, just about the same age as you are, Professor Purvis, and the recent controversy over the dress code at Clovis Unified School District takes me back to the days of our youth. As you will recall, the same problem with boys wanting to wear their hair long caused trouble when we were in high school. It all started with the Beatles, coming over from England with their long hair and their funny clothes, and before you knew it, boys were letting their hair get as longs as the girls' hair, and started wearing bell-bottom pants, and America went to hell. First, the liberals forced us to take Jesus out of the public schools. Next it was all that garbage about "civil rights." Then, thanks to the long-haired hippies, we lost the war in Vietnam. All the feminists began burning their bras, and then the homosexuals wanted in on the party. There's plenty of blame to go around, but the worst of all the rabble-rousers was the ACLU. Every time you turned around the ACLU was filing some lawsuit claiming you couldn't pray in school or you had to hire blacks or women for jobs they weren't qualified for. Now the ACLU is trying to ruin one of the last few places where God-fearing Americans are trying to hold the line against the moral decay that has plagued our nation for 50 years.

I think Clovis is a way of life. We have standards. This latest attempt by the ACLU to force us to let boys wear long hair is totally centered around something called gender equity. It makes absolutely no sense. We shouldn’t be changing things. A woman’s a woman and a man’s a man, and there’s a difference. I’m sick and tired of the ACLU. Because of them, I can have a male come into my daughter’s bathroom. I’m so tired of my rights and my conservative values being trampled on because of this gender equality. The ACLU claims that Clovis Unified School District is in violation of state law, but just because it’s a law doesn’t mean we need to put up with it. This community is being assaulted from afar with what I believe is an overreaching law regarding gender equity. This goes a lot further than hair past the collar. It’s about caving in. I really believe if you cave to this, in two to three years the ACLU will be suing us to take out ‘under God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance and no prayer before the school board meeting.

I agree with US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who believes that students shouldn't have any rights in school. As he wrote in concurrence in Morse v. Frederick, "Early public schools gave total control to teachers, who expected obedience and respect from students." Teachers nowadays are a bunch of socialist bloodsuckers, but that doesn't mean that school administrators shouldn't have complete control over the students they are trying to inculcate with American values.

For 50 years I've been wary of sharing my views openly for fear the "political correctness police" would jump all over me. But now that our next President, Donald John Trump, has made it acceptable again to publicly support bigotry and xenophobia, I feel great! Maybe Clovis will be where we finally start taking America back from the Obamas and the ACLU-types who almost ruined everything.


Thank you, NAME WITHHELD, for taking me on that nostalgic trip back through our adolescence and young adulthood. I have a slightly different perspective than yours--I remember the '60's and early 70's as a "Prague Spring" for the United States before the late '70's and '80's came along like a battalion of Soviet tanks and crushed our dreams of a freer, more inclusive America. (I note parenthetically the recent passing of Supreme Court Justice Scalia, who "rode a tank/held a general's rank" in that legal and cultural Unternehmen Adlerangriff.) Valley Views on the Law also has a different attitude than yours about the ACLU, as some of our previous shows have demonstrated. We have great admiration and gratitude for an organization dedicated to preserving the constitutional and legal rights of all Americans.

Our society has made positive changes since the repressive, racist days of the 1950's that you, NAME WITHHELD, and a frightening number of Republican voters are pleased and excited to see reinvigorated by the current Republican presidential candidates, led by The Donald. When you and I were in high school, doctor, lawyer, military or police officer, President, Congressman, and a host of other terms instantly triggered a single picture in our minds: a white male. Although those occupations are still numerically dominated by white males, women and people of color face fewer barriers to participating in these activities. In the good old days, being homosexual was a crime punishable by lengthy terms of imprisonment; now it means fighting every day to eliminate the lingering vestiges of our homophobic past. Much of the credit for those advances must go to the brave individuals who were willing to challenge repressive authoritarian rules that maintained the hierarchical race, gender, and gender-orientation structure of society. The fact that a high school student in Clovis must fight the same battle half a century after female high school students won the right to wear slacks is dispiriting, but that student's willingness to challenge authoritarian government control is inspiring. That the ACLU stands ready to assist him is a testament to the enduring power of the Constitution, when supported by persons of good will, to preserve the freedom that brave Americans of all colors, genders, and gender orientations have fought for.

If the machine intelligences that will soon supplant human beings maintain a history of our species, they will undoubtedly note that by insisting upon freedom from arbitrary government power, we enabled elements of our population to use that freedom to further criminal or terroristic goals. Allowing high school students to make choices about their appearance may lead to display of gang symbols or other real dangers, but a free society must come up with better solutions to such risks than forcing every student to be an obedient robot. We should persuade the next generation of Americans to adopt democratic values by modelling those values in how we treat them, rather than coercing students to outwardly mimic the opinions of government officials or a right-wing majority.

The vast Valley Views on the Law audience knows that I enjoy caricaturing right wing views in my fabricated e-mails. Sadly, no parody was required today, as much of your "Clovis Way of Life" harangue was lifted directly from news reports of comments made by Clovis Unified School District board members and parents. As I wend my way through my Golden Years toward the end of my journey, I recognize how difficult it is to change anyone's mind about political and cultural issues. The best hope for continued progress is to educate the young people who will replace the older generations. The best hope for doing that effectively is for everyone to vote. Go forth and spread the word: everyone should vote!