Baggy pants ban "unconstitutional," rules US judge

MIAMI (AFP) - A Florida judge has deemed unconstitutional a law banning baggy pants that show off the wearer's underwear, local media reported Tuesday.

A 17-year-old spent a night in jail last week after police arrested him for wearing low pants in Riviera Beach, southeast Florida.

The law banning so-called "saggy pants" was approved by city voters in March after supporters of the bill collected nearly 5,000 signatures to put the measure on the ballot.

The teen would have received a 150 dollars fine or community service, but he spent the night in jail due to a history of marijuana use, the Palm Beach Post newspaper said.

"Somebody help me," said Palm Beach Circuit Judge Paul Moyle, before giving his decision.

"We're not talking about exposure of buttocks. No! We're talking about someone who has on pants whose underwear are apparently visible to a police officer who then makes an arrest and the basis is he's then held overnight, no bond."

"Your honor, we now have the fashion police," added public defender Carol Bickerstaff, who asked the law be declared "unconstitutional."

The judge agreed with Bickerstaff immediately, reported the Post.

Laws that ban low-slung pants are on the books in several US cities, including Delcambre, Louisiana, where offenders can be fined up to 500 dollars or jailed for up to six months.

Dallas, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia are among the larger US cities considering similar measures.


i don't wear baggy pants that show off my underwear. i think it's baduy. but if someone wants to dress that way, who am i to tell him not to dress as he pleases?

neither do i wear sando to school. seldom do i wear slippers. but should we exclude those who choose to dress that way from learning the law in the grand manner?

in the first place, what substantial interest are we advancing in imposing a dress code? the college's concern to look professional? its concern to set itself apart from the rest in diliman? or its goal towards achieving a higher bar passing rate?

having a dress code reinforces the one thing i hate about lawyering: pretense. we put so much premium on our appearance, on our "performance" and decorum in court, but come to think of it, how much have we (lawyers and lawyers-to-be) contributed towards improving this country?

frankly, i have more respect for a jesuit volunteer in slippers sent to some remote area than for a lawyer dressed in an armani suit who thinks of nothing else but billable hours.

the clothes do not make the man. the greatest tragedy is perhaps for a man to be respected solely for the clothes that he wear, and for nothing else.



a friend from ateneo law wrote this article while we were in cotabato city on the eve of the armm elections. immediately after posting this on her blog, i told her she should submit it to youngblood coz i think it's worth publishing. a month later, her article does get published! read on. congrats krizna!



By Krizna Gomez
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:05:00 09/11/2008

One of the memorable sessions we’ve had so far in Political Law Review dealt with “gerrymandering,” the practice of carving up a new province or district from separate and even non-contiguous municipalities that comprise some politicians’ bailiwicks to enable them to preserve their hold on power. And recently just before the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, I saw for myself what gerrymandering actually means.

Before you can reach Buluan, a town in Maguindanao province, you have to pass by another province, Sultan Kudarat. And Shariff Kabunsuan province is so small you can actually drive through its highway without knowing that you are no longer in it. On an area inspection as we prepared to monitor the elections, we were able to go around Shariff Kabunsuan and Maguindanao, and then reach the boundary of Sultan Kudarat in less than two hours.

Maguindanao (which would include Shariff Kabunsuan) is really beautiful. (I never thought I’d find it to be that way, but I can’t think of a better word to describe the place.) On both sides of the road are vast, green tracts of land with mountains stretching to the horizon. The houses are built so far apart that at some points, our local partners would refer to them as a “no man’s land.” And these simple houses are built of nipa.

Then you reach the seat of government, the Provincial Capitol of Maguindanao, and the “palaces” (yes, they have two of those) of the Ampatuan family, which are called “the MalacaƱang of the Mindanao.” These palaces rise from both sides of the road, one owned by the father, the other by the son. They are grand structures that contrast sharply with the poverty in the region. Joel, our local, said, “May bangko pa ‘yan sa loob” [“It even has a bank inside”].

During that two-hour trip, we passed through countless checkpoints and so many soldiers either walking in file by the side of the road or being transported in trucks and other military vehicles, all in full battle gear. At one checkpoint, the lady lawyer who was with us, and who had just finished praying the rosary, asked the solider, “How old are you?”

The soldier, who was sweating profusely from the heat of his uniform (or from terror) and obviously taken aback by the question, meekly uttered, “Twenty-two po.”

Boy, I’m 23 and I’ve never had to wear grenades around my waist to survive.

That day was yet another day of learning for me, reinforcing what I’ve started to realize since last year: We can never really judge a place and its people, without knowing their lives, how they live, and what they have to contend with every day. It’s so easy for the media to portray this part of the country as a war-torn land and for brilliant legal minds sitting in some comfortable office in Manila to agree with the logical reasoning of the Supreme Court in dissolving an entire province such as Shariff Kabunsuan, or to criticize an alien concept such as the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity based on what we know to be the Constitution and what we fear to lose as a nation should we give away so much independence to some groups.

I, for one, agree with the decision to strike down the law that created the province of Shariff Kabunsuan (like what I said, it’s really absurdly small and very contiguous, and people know that one motive for creating new provinces or towns is to increase the internal revenue allotment). But until that day, I based my beliefs and principles only on what I knew to be right under the law, and I never thought anything else mattered. But when you go to the ground and find out that the Muslims of Shariff Kabunsuan and those of Maguindanao belong to two very different tribes, then the lines lose their clarity. When you see a big streamer hung across the highway that reads, “SUPREME COURT JUSTICES, PLEASE RECONSIDER YOUR DECISION. HAVE MERCY ON US” and supposedly put up by hundreds of employees of the provincial government who suddenly found themselves unemployed and with nowhere else to go, your keen legal mind finds itself confused by a complicated reality. When you hear a decorated military colonel, who has suffered imprisonment for love of country, predicting with conviction that one day, the whole of Mindanao will be separated from the Philippines because it is simply inevitable and it is most needed to avert bloodshed, you begin to question what you know to be the best for the nation or to stop hundreds of 22-year olds from having to kill against their will.

I’m a law student. But on that day, I was a law student who was not reading law books but who was immersed in the poorest, most battered corner on this side of the country.

I’m not saying that we should change what we know of the law because of what we see out there. But maybe, we can start learning how to look at the law minus the unflinching arrogance of our legal education but with a more sensitive eye if not an understanding heart for those who are left to bear the consequences of applying it.

I still think the Supreme Court was right in applying the law in Sema v. Comelec. Perhaps our government negotiators really gave away too much as the price of peace in Mindanao. But what I think cannot feed the families of those who were thrown out of their jobs in Shariff Kabunsuan, or prevent a young man from dying while fighting for peace. It’s tough to be a lawyer in a country that is poor and divided. It is hard to be both right and understanding.

Krizna Gomez, 23, is a fourth-year law student at the Ateneo de Manila University. She was in Cotabato City as part of the Legal Network for Truthful Elections, a group of non-partisan lawyers and law students that monitored the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.



the first barops had just ended and yet i'm already extremely exhausted. i think i could sleep forever. but no, there are classes tomorrow and there are other matters to take care of. hay...

thanks to those who helped out at century park and at taft. hope to see you again in the next three saturdays.

congrats to arianne and the rest of the barops team for making it through the first weekend. hopefully wala nang madadampot ng mga police next time (inside joke, sorry sa mga di nakapagbarops).

let me just doze off for the meantime. will try multiply silence for as many days as possible, para makapag-aral naman at magkabuhay din.


BarOps na!

UP LAW, Bar Ops na!!!

We are at the Century Park
(by Harrison Plaza)
from Saturday 1pm till Sunday 5pm
all weekends of September.

Please join us in supporting our
2008 BAR TAKERS!!!
Help out, hang out, mingle, socialize, make friends, find love, show your school spirit!!!

Face the Challenge. Be the Strength.
100% LET'S GO UP LAW!!!

P.S. Please wear ONLY UP / UP Law apparel or school colors


LSG Statement on the Library Dress Code

Dear all,

Please find attached the letter drafted by the Law Student Government Executive Board on the Dress Code imposed by the Law Library. Hard copies are being given to the blocks through your president or representative. If you agree with the statement, please affix your signature. We hope to submit the letter to Prof. Santos as soon as we get feedback from all the blocks, so please help us expedite the process. Thanks!


Prof. Antonio S. Santos

Head Librarian, Espiritu Hall

UP College of Law Library

Dear Sir:

Last Thursday, the Law Library posted an announcement prohibiting the wearing of sandos and slippers inside the library. This regulation, which was effective immediately after posting, was imposed without prior notice or consultation with the students—not even with the LSG. Apart from this lack of notice, there are also no clear standards to guide the library personnel and the students as to what counts as inappropriate attire (How is a sando defined? How are slippers defined?).

Since the policy was effective immediately, some students (including non-law students) suddenly found themselves being expelled from the library, or being denied entry because of their "inappropriate attire." On Friday, LSG President Jobert Navallo clarified the matter with you. During that meeting, you cited three grounds to justify the regulation, to wit:

1) MC No. 14, which imposes a dress code for government officials and employees;

2) the Ateneo Law Library's dress code;

3) the UP Main Library's dress code (which allegedly imposes a similar prohibition).

We find however, that these rationales are thoroughly insufficient.

The first ground, which is the memorandum relied upon by the Library, is inapplicable to students. MC No. 14 is a memorandum issued in 1991 by the Civil Service Commission Chair to all government officials and employees, and was merely re-copied and re-released in 1997 by the then Vice Chancellor of UP, Mrs. Perla Legaspi, to UP units. By no stretch of the imagination can we say that law students are government officials and employees, and so from the title alone, it is obvious that such memorandum was never meant to apply to students. Inclusio unius est exclusio alterius.

Even assuming that MC No. 14 is applicable to students, why is it being invoked only now, and why the hurried implementation? Surely it cannot be because of any "urgency," because the university memo was issued ten years ago and no corresponding dress code among students was then imposed. The belated adherence by the College of Law library at the very least warranted prior notice to the student body.

The second reason propounded by your good office is that the Ateneo Law Library imposes a dress code. It does not follow, however, that the UP Law Library should impose the same. If there is anything that has been clear in our minds since day one, it is the fact that UP is not Ateneo. UP is a state university; it has, arguably, students from more diverse social and regional backgrounds; and it has no other graduate school that prescribes a dress code (not even its MBA Program).

In our system, state-operated schools may not be enclaves of totalitarianism. School officials do not possess absolute authority over their students. Students in school as well as out of school are "persons" under our Constitution. They are possessed of fundamental rights which the State must respect, just as they themselves must respect their obligations to the State. In our system, students may not be regarded as closed-circuit recipients of only that which the State chooses to communicate. They may not be confined to the expression of those sentiments that are officially approved. In the absence of a specific showing of constitutionally valid reasons to regulate their speech, students are entitled to freedom of expression of their views. (Tinker v. Des Moines School District, 393 U.S. 503 [1969], emphasis supplied.)

Law students, in any school, are presumably responsible thinkers. But this should be a natural presumption in a school where the main teaching tool is the Socratic Method. Our professors are here not to define what counts as inappropriate, or to impose a dress code that they believe is appropriate, but to help students realize the correct answer, if there ever is one, in clothing.

Let the students continue to decide for themselves matters that are personal and that have no reasonable relation to their competence in studying the law. Indeed, nobody has ever claimed that UP Law graduates are less likely to act professionally in the field because UP does not impose a dress code the way Ateneo does, or that our lower bar passing rate is attributable to the way we dress.

The final justification is that the UP Main Library has a similar dress code. We find this hard to believe since no official memo has been distributed to the students, given to the USC or published or reported in the Philippine Collegian and, unless the students are apprised of a rule, they cannot reasonably be expected to abide by it.

Assuming however, that such a policy exists, it would still be a non-sequitur. Why should law students be precluded from questioning the Law Library's policy, just because the Main Library has imposed a similar policy? Policies affecting students which are imposed unilaterally and without any consultation should always be subject to attack.

Perhaps what is abnormal in this situation is the fact that the Library has not put forth any substantial interest in regulating the way students dress themselves. In Tinker v. Des Moines, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a student's right to free speech (which includes how he dresses) can only be curtailed if the speech would impinge on other student's rights, and if it would result in a substantial disruption / material interference with school activities. No such harm exists with the wearing of slippers and sando (although we have not seen anyone actually wear sando to school). And assuming it does, the harm must be real, and not merely conjectural, and the regulation should be such as to alleviate the harm in a direct and material way. School uniform policies should only be upheld if "it advances important government interests unrelated to the suppression of free speech, and if it does so in ways that effect as minimal a restriction on students' free expression as possible" (Jacobs v. Clark County School District, United States District Court for the District of Nevada, May 12, 2008).

The fundamental freedom of expression has guaranteed, as the history of our country would attest, that the students of the University of the Philippines, particularly of the College of Law, will always be at the forefront of student activism, and consequently, national development. It is for this reason that we regard it with utmost reverence and jealousy.

We therefore call on the UP Law Library to lift the policy and desist from implementing any dress code without first consulting the student body.


The Executive Board

UP Law Student Government 2008-2009

Michael Jobert I. Navallo


Alessandra Maria Anna Gloria O. Reyes


Bernice C. Mendoza


Janette T. Lim


Aaron Jarveen O. Ho

Public Relations Officer

Sophia Monica V. San Luis

Law Representative

Michael Jobert I. Navallo
President, Law Student Government
Mobile: +639279704899 / +639233330885
Landline: 410-0137
E-mail: jobertn@gmail.com