The First Amendment and Public Schools

2,282 views

Published on

Until 1969, First Amendment freedoms were not considered to apply seriously to school-age children. However, the 1969 Supreme Court ruling in Tinker v. Des Moines Schools changed everything. Suddenly, students did not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gates, as Justice Abe Fortas famously wrote. This slide presentation reviews the four major Supreme Court decisions that shape today's so-called school speech.

Published in: Education
0 Comments
1 Like
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Views
Total views
2,282
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
3
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
40
Comments
0
Likes
1
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

The First Amendment and Public Schools

  1. 1. The First Amendment and Public Schools Key Supreme Court Cases Tinker v. Des Moines, 1969 Bethel v. Fraser, 1986 Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, 1988 Morse v. Frederick, 2007
  2. 2. Tinker v. Des Moines Schools
  3. 3. Tinker v. Des Moines Schools In December 1965, Sen. Robert Kennedy called for a truce in the Vietnam War
  4. 4. Tinker v. Des Moines Schools Several students and their parents supported the truce proposal.
  5. 5. Tinker v. Des Moines Schools The Tinkers were a family of peace activists
  6. 6. Tinker v. Des Moines Schools The students decided to show support for the truce by wearing...
  7. 7. Tinker v. Des Moines Schools
  8. 8. Tinker v. Des Moines Schools The students set Thursday, Dec. 16, 1965, as the day they would all wear black armbands in support of the truce
  9. 9. Tinker v. Des Moines Schools Getting wind of the plan, the district's secondary school principals met on Tuesday, Dec. 14, and agreed to suspend any student who refused to remove an armband
  10. 10. Tinker v. Des Moines Schools (Not the actual Des Moines principals)
  11. 11. Tinker v. Des Moines Schools   Five students were suspended for wearing armbands. Three of them took their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court: − − − Christopher Eckhardt, 16 John Tinker, 15 Mary Beth Tinker, 13
  12. 12. Tinker v. Des Moines Schools
  13. 13. Tinker v. Des Moines Schools The big question: Does a prohibition against the wearing of armbands in public school, as a form of symbolic protest, violate the students' freedom of speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment?
  14. 14. Tinker v. Des Moines Schools The court began by asking itself:
  15. 15. Tinker v. Des Moines Schools The court began by asking itself:  Were the black armbands a form of symbolic speech protected by the First Amendment?
  16. 16. Tinker v. Des Moines Schools The answer:  Yes, the armbands were a form of symbolic speech protected by the First Amendment.
  17. 17. Tinker v. Des Moines Schools The court then asked itself:  Does a school have the power to restrict that speech in the interest of maintaining order?
  18. 18. Tinker v. Des Moines Schools The answer:  Yes, if that speech posed... − − “A material and substantial interference with schoolwork or discipline” or An invasion of other people's rights
  19. 19. Tinker v. Des Moines Schools The court ruled that the armbands did NOT pose:   “A material and substantial interference with schoolwork or discipline” or An invasion of other people's rights
  20. 20. Tinker v. Des Moines Schools Therefore, in 1969, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of the students
  21. 21. Tinker v. Des Moines Schools  “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” – Justice Abe Fortas Champion of children's rights
  22. 22. Summarizing School Speech “Tinker” still stands: Students are free to speak unless the speech interferes substantially with schoolwork or discipline.
  23. 23. Summarizing School Speech However...
  24. 24. Summarizing School Speech Subsequent Supreme Court decisions have eroded away some of Tinker's protections
  25. 25. Bethel v. Fraser
  26. 26. Bethel v. Fraser The scene:  Bethel High School  Spanaway, Wash., 1983  A 600-student assembly  Matthew Fraser, a senior, nominated a fellow student for student body vice president
  27. 27. Bethel v. Fraser The speech was filled with sexual innuendos
  28. 28. Bethel v. Fraser
  29. 29. Bethel v. Fraser Fraser was disciplined for violating the school's “disruptive conduct rule”
  30. 30. Bethel v. Fraser Fraser's discipline consisted of the following:  Three-day suspension  Prohibition from speaking at graduation  Removal from the ballot used to elect three graduation speakers
  31. 31. Bethel v. Fraser The school defined “disruptive conduct” as conduct that substantially interferes with the educational process, including the use of obscene, profane language or gestures.
  32. 32. Bethel v. Fraser Fraser filed a federal lawsuit against the Bethel School District, alleging violation of his First Amendment rights
  33. 33. Bethel v. Fraser    The U.S. District Court in Seattle ruled in favor of Fraser. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled in favor of Fraser. Bethel School District appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  34. 34. Bethel v. Fraser The big question: Does the First Amendment prevent a school district from disciplining a high school student for giving a lewd speech at a high school assembly?
  35. 35. Bethel v. Fraser The court first asked itself:  Was Matthew Fraser's speech the highest form of protected speech? − That is, was it pure speech, mixed speechand-action, or symbolic speech?
  36. 36. Bethel v. Fraser The answer:  No, it was lower-valued speech because of its profane, erotic content.
  37. 37. Bethel v. Fraser The answer:   No, it was lower-valued speech because of its profane, erotic content. Lower-valued speech gets intermediate scrutiny from the court.
  38. 38. Bethel v. Fraser Intermediate scrutiny means:    The law furthers an important government interest. The government's interest is unrelated to suppression of free expression. The restrictions imposed are no greater than necessary.
  39. 39. Bethel v. Fraser In 1986, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Bethel School District
  40. 40. Bethel v. Fraser The court ruled that:   Schools had an important interest in shielding younger children from vulgar and lewd speech. Vulgar and lewd speech was inconsistent with the “fundamental values of public school education.”
  41. 41. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier
  42. 42. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier The scene:  Hazelwood East High School  Hazelwood, Mo., 1983   The Spectrum, Hazelwood's student newspaper, prepares to publish articles on teen pregnancy and divorce The paper changed names of the quoted students to protect their identities
  43. 43. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier “Sixteen-year-old Sue had it all — good looks, good grades, a loving family and a cute boyfriend. She also had a seven pound baby boy.”
  44. 44. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier The school principal killed the articles before they could be published, fearing the students could be identified
  45. 45. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier The principal also felt that younger students should not be exposed to discussions of birth control and that parents should be allowed to respond to articles about divorce
  46. 46. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier Spectrum Editor Cathy Kuhlmeier and reporters Leslie Smart and Leanne Tippett filed a federal lawsuit, alleging violation of their First Amendment rights
  47. 47. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier  The U.S. District Court in St. Louis ruled against the students, saying that schools had a right to censor student speech if: − − The activities were “integral” to the school's educational function, and The censorship has “a substantial and reasonable basis”
  48. 48. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier  The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, also in St. Louis, overruled the district court in favor of the students.
  49. 49. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier   The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, also in St. Louis, overruled the district court. The appeals court declared that The Spectrum was a public forum, “intended to be and operated as a conduit for student viewpoint”
  50. 50. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier    The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, also in St. Louis, overruled the district court. The appeals court declared that The Spectrum was a public forum, “intended to be and operated as a conduit for student viewpoint” Public forums require that courts use strict scrutiny when reviewing a law's constitutionality
  51. 51. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier  Strict scrutiny requires that the law be:
  52. 52. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier  Strict scrutiny requires that the law be: − Necessary to achieve a compelling government interest.
  53. 53. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier  Strict scrutiny requires that the law be: − Necessary to achieve a compelling government interest. − Narrowly tailored to achieve the intended result.
  54. 54. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier The question for the Supreme Court: Who was right: the district court, which supported the schools, or the appeals court, which supported the students?
  55. 55. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier The court considered the Tinker decision:  Students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”
  56. 56. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier The court also considered the Bethel decision:  “A school need not tolerate student speech that is inconsistent with its basic educational mission.”
  57. 57. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier To reach its decision, the court needed to answer the question at the heart of the case:  Was The Spectrum a “public forum”?
  58. 58. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier In other words, was The Spectrum considered a place where students openly exchanged viewpoints?
  59. 59. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier If The Spectrum was a public forum, the principal's censorship would have to pass the highest standard of strict scrutiny
  60. 60. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier The court's answer:   No, Hazelwood's student newspaper was NOT a “public forum.” School-sponsored newspapers, theatrical productions and other school-sponsored expression was lower-valued speech, subject to restrictions.
  61. 61. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier The court said that as long as...
  62. 62. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier The court said that as long as...  The activity is sponsored by the school
  63. 63. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier The court said that as long as...   The activity is sponsored by the school The school's actions are reasonably related to legitimate “pedagogical” (educational) concerns, and
  64. 64. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier The court said that as long as...    The activity is sponsored by the school The school's actions are reasonably related to legitimate “pedagogical” (educational) concerns, and The activity or publication is not a public forum for student expression...
  65. 65. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier Then...
  66. 66. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier Schools can censor student speech that is...  Ungrammatical  Poorly written  Inadequately researched  Biased or prejudiced  Vulgar or profane  Unsuitable for immature audiences, or  Advocates “conduct otherwise inconsistent with the shared values of the civilized social order”
  67. 67. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier The court's decision was 5-3 in favor of the school district
  68. 68. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier Does the Hazelwood decision apply to all schools?
  69. 69. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier No “Hazelwood” does not apply to schools that let their student publications operate as public forums, in which students make all decisions about content.
  70. 70. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier Public-forum publications can be censored... ONLY ...if the school can show they will cause a “material and substantial disruption” of school activities
  71. 71. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier Schools also cannot censor student publications published off-campus without school sponsorship
  72. 72. Morse v. Frederick
  73. 73. Morse v. Frederick The scene:     Juneau, Alaska, 2002 Olympic Torch Relay attended by Juneau-Douglas High School students as a field trip Joseph Frederick, a senior, unfurled a banner saying “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” The principal told Frederick to put away the banner. He refused.
  74. 74. Morse v. Frederick The principal confiscated the banner and suspended Frederick for 10 days. She said Frederick's actions violated school policy, which forbids advocating the use of illegal drugs.
  75. 75. Morse v. Frederick Frederick filed a federal lawsuit against the school principal, Deborah Morse.
  76. 76. Morse v. Frederick The question for the courts: Can school authorities stop students from expressing views that may be interpreted as promoting illegal drug use?
  77. 77. Morse v. Frederick    The U.S. District Court in Alaska ruled in favor of Morse, the principal. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled in favor of Frederick, the student. The principal appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  78. 78. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier Once again, the court considered the Tinker decision:  Students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”
  79. 79. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier The court also considered the Bethel decision:  “A school need not tolerate student speech that is inconsistent with its basic educational mission.”
  80. 80. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier The court also considered the Kuhlmeier decision:  The rights of students are applied “in light of the special characteristics of the school environment”
  81. 81. Morse v. Frederick In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of Morse, the school principal
  82. 82. Morse v. Frederick The court's reasoning:    The speech was not political in nature “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” reasonably could be viewed as promoting illegal drug use The school had an “important” if not “compelling” interest in prohibiting or punishing student speech that promotes illegal drug use
  83. 83. Morse v. Frederick Justice Clarence Thomas further argued that “Tinker” should be overturned. He said the First Amendment was not meant to protect student speech in public schools.
  84. 84. Morse v. Frederick Justices Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito cautioned that the decision could be used to punish those advocating constitutionally permissible, but unpopular, political ideas, such as legalizing medical marijuana use.
  85. 85. Morse v. Frederick Justice John Paul Stevens disagreed with the majority because:  The school banned speech based on its content.  Frederick's banner was too vague to assume it promoted illegal drug use.
  86. 86. Summarizing School Speech “Tinker” still stands: Students are free to speak unless the speech interferes substantially with schoolwork or discipline – and except if the speech is:    Lewd (“Bethel”) Takes place in a school-sponsored publication or performance (“Hazelwood”) Promotes illegal drug use (“Morse”)

×