• Regents of the University of
California v Bakke
• Texas v Johnson
• Hazelwood v Kuhlmeier
During the 1970’s, the medical school of the
university of California, developed a dual admissions
program for students. Those who qualified could be
admitted under a “special” program. This program
was to increase the number of minority, or
“disadvantaged” students in the class to promote
diversity. No underprivileged, white applicants were
accepted. Allan Bakke, a Caucasian male, had fit all the
criteria for the regular program and was rejected two
consecutive years for race. Meanwhile, applicants with
lower qualifications than his were admitted under the
Bakke claimed that the
school directly violated his
rights in regards to the 14th
Amendment for equal
protection and the Civil
Rights Act. He claimed the
school was treating him
unequally because under
qualified, minority students
were accepted over him. Bakke
argued that this was
unconstitutional. He thought
if he was a minority race, he
would have been admitted.
The university wanted to
increase the diversity of
ethnicity within the school.
They intended this to
“increase the number of
physicians who will practice in
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Bakke and
said that the University violated both the Equal
Protection clause of the 14th Amendment, and the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 for discriminating against race to
promote diversity among the class.
The 14th Amendment states that “No state shall
deny to any person the equal protection of the laws”;
therefor, the school was required to admit Bakke to the
In front of Dallas City hall during a protest
against nuclear weapons, Gregory Lee Johnson set an
American flag on fire as a symbol to protest against
Reagan administrative policies. No one was hurt or
injured; however, many were offended. Johnson was
arrested for violating the Texas law that prohibits
vandalizing a respected object. He was convicted with a
$2,000 fine and sentenced to one year in prison.
Johnson argued that his First Amendment Rights were
being violated. He thought he had a right to express
his opinion by exercising his freedom of speech, which
also includes symbolic speech.
The state of Texas argued that Johnson had
disrespected a treasured symbol regardless of the
statement he was trying to make. The American
flag is respected and his actions were not justified.
Texas argued that, “preserving the flag as a
symbol of national unity was more important
than Johnson’s freedom of speech”.
After Johnson’s conviction was reversed by the
Texas Criminal Court, the case was taken to the
Supreme court and they ruled in favor of Johnson, 5:4.
It was said that the government may not prohibit
expression of an idea simply because society may find
it offensive or disagreeable. Plus, Johnson’s actions did
not disturb the peace. The First Amendment protected
In Hazelwood east high school, journalism
students were responsible for putting together the
school newspaper, the Spectrum. Two articles in the
paper revolved around teen pregnancy and divorce.
While revising the paper before publishing, the
principal had two whole pages removed so those
articles would not be published and the paper would
make the deadline. The students felt that their First
Amendment rights had been violated by removing
their articles. They had put in a lot of time and effort
and were upset they did not even have an opportunity
to revise and edit them.
Principal Reynolds thought that the articles
containing topics of sex, birth control, and
divorce, were too inappropriate for the students of the
high school to be reading. He also thought that even
though the names of the pregnant students had been
omitted, other students would be able to easily identify
who they were. Reynolds also saw it unfair that the
father mentioned in the divorce article, did not get to
give his side of the story.
The supreme court ruled in favor of the
Principal 5:3. They said that school officials are
permitted to limit student speech if they have a
substantial reason for doing so. And because the
Spectrum was in fact not considered a public forum,
school officials may put restrictions on what is printed.
In this case the Principal was justified in removing the
inappropriate content. Although the First Amendment
entitles people to freedom of speech, in an educational
environment, some speech is not permitted by students
or the staff.
The Amendments to our Constitution have
protected the people’s God given rights and
elaborated on what it means for citizens of the
United States to be free. The Amendments
symbolize American ideals and are the
foundation for the country. They have, for better,
improved the original Constitution.
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