US Case Law


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US Case Law

  1. 1. US CASE LAWS Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier New Jersey v. T.L.O. Plessy v. Ferguson
  2. 2. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1988) Censorship, Student Press Rights OVERVIEW In May 1983, Principal Robert Reynolds of Hazelwood East High School, decided to have certain pages of the school’s student- written newspaper pulled because of sensitive content. Two of the articles submitted for publication in the final edition of the paper contained stories on divorce and teenage pregnancy. Principal Reynolds reviewed the paper before publication. He tried to remove them quickly before the paper’s publication deadline. Students felt that this violated their First Amendment rights- freedom of speech and press. However, The Supreme Court made a landmark decision that Principal Reynolds was right in what he did. They decided this because public school student newspapers that have not been established as forums for student expression are subject to a lower level of First Amendment protection, rather than independent student expression or newspapers established as forums for student expression.
  3. 3. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1988) Censorship, Student Press Rights DEFENSES ARGUMENTS The school district and school officials, claiming that defendants' First Amendment rights were violated by the removal of a certain issue of the paper. These two deleted pages included an article telling school students' experiences with pregnancy and another article discussing the impact of divorce on students at the school. The newspaper was written and edited by a journalism class, as part of the school's curriculum. The teacher in charge of the paper submitted page proofs to the school's principal, who objected to the pregnancy story because the pregnant students might be identified from the text whether they were named or not. He also believed that the article's references to sexual activity and birth control were inappropriate for some of the younger students. The principal opposed the divorce article because the page proofs he was provided identified a student who complained of her father's ways, and the principal believed that the student's parents should have been given an opportunity to respond to the remarks or to approve to their publication. Being that there was no time to make necessary changes in the articles if the paper was to be issued before the end of the school year, the principal directed that the pages on which they appeared be withheld from publication even though other, inoffensive articles were included on such pages. Students claimed that this violated their First Amendment rights.
  4. 4. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1988) Censorship, Student Press Rights COURTS DECISION The Supreme Court decided that the principal had not violated the students’ First Amendment rights to freedom of speech. The paper was sponsored by the school and subject to editing by the school. It was not meant for sharing views, but it was a requirement for the students in the class. The topic of the stories were students in the school whose identities could have easily been exposed. The father of the student who created the accusing divorce article was not even informed or given a chance to respond to it. It was in the best interest of the students and the school to remove the articles
  5. 5. New Jersey v. T.L.O. (1985) Student Search & Seizure OVERVIEW In 1980, a teacher at Piscataway High School in New Jersey found two girls smoking in a restroom. Smoking in the restrooms was a violation of school rules; smoking was allowed only in the designated smoking area. As a result, an assistant principal felt the need to search her purse for cigarettes. The vice principal found marijuana and other items that connected the student in dealing marijuana. The student tried to have the evidence from her purse suppressed, contending that small possession of cigarettes was not a violation of school rules; so a desire for proof of smoking in the bathroom did not justify the search. The Supreme Court decided that the search did not violate the Constitution and provided more lenient standards for reasonableness in school searches.
  6. 6. New Jersey v. T.L.O. (1985) Student Search & Seizure DEFENSES ARGUMENTS T.L.O. tried to have the evidence from her purse suppressed, opposing that the search violated the Fourth Amendment. She also claimed that her admission should be suppressed on the grounds that it was tainted by the unlawful search. The juvenile court denied her Fourth Amendment arguments, although it acknowledged that the Fourth Amendment applies to searches by school officials. But, it said that a school official can search a student if the official has a "rational feeling that a crime has been or is in the process of being committed, or sensible reason to believe that the search is needed to maintain school discipline or carry out school rules." This is a lower standard than the "probable cause" standard, which is required when police conduct a search. Public school officials are employees of the State, not representatives of parents. They do not have the right to act as parents. Because school officials are employees of the State, they are obligated to respect every student's rights, including his or her right to privacy. The search of T.L.O.'s purse and the seizure of its contents were unreasonable acts, which led to her confession; therefore, the exclusionary rule applies
  7. 7. New Jersey v. T.L.O. (1985) Student Search & Seizure COURTS DECISION In 1985, the Supreme Court, by a 6-3 margin, ruled that New Jersey and the school had met a "reasonableness" standard for piloting such searches at school. Students in public schools have a constitutional right to privacy under the 4th Amendment and that school officials are bound by constitutional restrictions. But the opinion also stated that the rights of children and adolescents are not the same as those of adults and that school officials have a responsibility to maintain the discipline necessary for education. The high court said school administrators don't need to have a search warrant or probable cause before conducting a search because students have a reduced expectation of privacy when in school. a search could be reasonable under the 4th Amendment without probable cause, so long as it was supported by reasonable suspicion or reasonable cause. The assistant vice-principal's search was considered reasonable under this definition.
  8. 8. Plessy v. Ferguson(1896) "Separate but Equal," Equal Protection OVERVIEW Plessy v. Ferguson was an 1896 decision by the US Supreme Court that confirmed the principle of "Separate but Equal" and minority segregation. The case began in Louisiana in 1892. Homer Plessy agreed to be arrested to test the 1890 law establishing "whites only" train cars. Although he himself was one-eighth black and seven-eighths white, he was still legally required to sit in the "colored" car of the train. The judge at the trial was John Howard Ferguson, a lawyer from Massachusetts who had previously declared the Separate Car Act "unconstitutional on trains that traveled through several states." In Plessy's case, however, he decided that the state could choose to regulate railroad companies that operated only within Louisiana. He found Plessy guilty of refusing to leave the white car. Plessy appealed to the Supreme Court of Louisiana, which upheld Ferguson's decision. In 1896, the Supreme Court of the United States heard Plessy's case and found the law constitutional. Plessy paid the fine for the offense, but the case renewed black opposition to such laws. The Plessy decision set the precedent that "separate" facilities for blacks and whites were constitutional as long as they were "equal" (which was seldom the case). The "separate but equal" doctrine had already been extended to cover many areas of public life, such as restaurants, theaters, restrooms, and public schools. Not until 1954, in the equally important Brown v. Board of Education decision, would the "separate but equal" doctrine be struck down.
  9. 9. Plessy v. Ferguson(1896) "Separate but Equal," Equal Protection DEFENSES ARGUMENTS Plessy argued that segregated facilities violate the Equal Protection Clause. As a fully participating citizen, Plessy should not have been denied any rights of citizenship. He should not have been required to give up any public right or access. The Louisiana law violated the Equal Protection Clause and was, therefore, unconstitutional.
  10. 10. Plessy v. Ferguson(1896) "Separate but Equal," Equal Protection COURTS DECISION Justice Henry B. Brown of Michigan delivered the 7-1 decision of the Court that upheld the Louisiana law requiring segregation. Brown noted that the law did not violate either the 13th or 14th Amendments. He stated that the 13th Amendment applied only to slavery, and the 14th amendment was not intended to give African Americans social equality but only political and civil equality with white people. The justices based their decision on the separate-but-equal doctrine, that separate facilities for blacks and whites satisfied the Fourteenth Amendment so long as they were equal. (The phrase, "separate but equal" was not part of the opinion.) Justice Brown conceded that the 14th amendment intended to establish absolute equality for the races before the law. But Brown noted that "in the nature of things it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon color, or to enforce social, as distinguished from political equality, or a commingling of the two races unsatisfactory to either." In short, segregation does not in itself constitute unlawful discrimination.