Tenn. Court Rules School Ban On Confederate Flag OK

11/19/2010 03:01 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- A federal appeals court has upheld a district court's ruling that a school's ban on Confederate clothing was a reasonable attempt to prevent disruptions.

Tommy Defoe sued Anderson County school officials after he was sent home and then suspended for insubordination in 2006 for wearing a T-shirt and a belt buckle bearing the image of the Confederate battle flag. He said he wanted to display his pride in his Southern heritage. In court filings, he claimed school officials violated his First Amendment rights.

U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan in August 2009 threw out Defoe's suit. On Thursday, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati affirmed that decision.

The court found that racial tensions and incidents at the school were such that banning displays of the Confederate flag was a reasonable way to prevent disruption and violence.