“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Anything that a person says or does that is intended to convey a message that could reasonably be expected to be understood by others. Verbal Non verbal
During the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas, Johnson participated in a political demonstration to protest the policies of the Reagan administration. After a march through the city streets, Johnson burned an American flag in front of City Hall while protesters chanted. No one was physically injured or threatened with injury, although several witnesses were seriously offended by the flag burning.
Is the desecration/burning of an American flag a form of speech that is protected under the First Amendment?
Texas Trial Court Convicted -Texas law outlawing flag burning Texas Court of Appeals Affirmed Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Reversed US Supreme Court Burning of the flag was protected expression under the First Amendment
“…Johnson’s actions were expressive conduct and had a distinctively political nature” “…the fact that an audience takes offense to certain ideas…does not justify prohibition of speech.” “… if there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”
The Court has recognized that students do not shed their constitutional rights when they enter school. However, the Court has traditionally recognized that the educational mission of the school cannot be disrupted by the exercise of free speech. Speech rights at school differ from outside the school environment.
In 1968, three public school students protesting the Vietnam War came to class wearing black armbands. The principals said that all students wearing armbands would remove them or face suspension. The students were suspended.
Does a prohibition against the wearing of armbands in public school to protest the Vietnam War violate the First Amendment's freedom of speech protections?
The US Supreme Court held in a 7-2 decision that the wearing of the armbands was protected by the First Amendment. Petitioners were quiet and passive, not disruptive. “…students do not shed their rights at the schoolhouse gate.”
Student Matthew Fraser delivered a speech to 600 high school students in support of a friend’s campaign for student council during a school assembly. The speech contained language that was inappropriate but it did not include obscenities. Some students, age 14 and older, were embarrassed and thought it was vulgar. Many students hooted and yelled during the speech and thought it was funny.
Fraser had previously discussed the speech with two teachers who told him the speech was inappropriate and should not be given. The next day, the principal suspended Fraser for violating the Disruptive Conduct Rule. His name was removed from the graduation speakers list. His parents did not feel this was fair so they sued the school district alleging a violation of their son’s First Amendment rights.
Does the First Amendment prevent a school district from disciplining a high school student for giving a vulgar or inappropriate speech at a school assembly?
The US Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of the school district. The speech was inconsistent with the educational mission of the school and the school had the right to restrict the speech even if it wasn’t obscene. The school should be able to maintain order.
The student editors of the Spectrum, a school newspaper, created an issue that included articles about teen pregnancy and the impact of divorce on students in the school.
The Principal, Robert Reynolds, had objections. He felt the teen pregnancy article: was inappropriate for a school newspaper and its intended audience (14 year old Freshman, for example…since it was illegal for them to even have sex) the girls’ anonymity was not adequately protected (fake names were used, but he felt it too easy to connect the dots on who was who). He felt the Divorce article: Lacked journalistic qualities as one student severely berated her father for not spending time with the family. However, the student newspaper made no attempt to speak to her father to obtain a fair journalistic view of the case
Since it was too late to rewrite the articles, he ordered that the pages on which the articles appeared be withheld from publication. The authors and family sued the school
Did the principal's deletion of the articles violate the students' rights under the First Amendment?
The US Supreme Court held in a 5-3 decision that no First Amendment violation had occurred. School officials can limit speech so long as their actions are “reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns.”
Today’s Case You will be the justices on the US Supreme Court to decide the First Amendment case presented today. Judges have to make decisions based on the facts and the law. They cannot make decisions based on how they feel about an issue.
Read the case materials provided and circle or highlight any and all important facts.
What are the facts of the case? Does the case involve free expression?
U.S. Supreme Court U.S. Court of Appeals (12 Regional Circuits) U.S. District Courts Appeal Structure of Federal Courts Appeal
Did the school principal violate the First Amendment by prohibiting the banner she thought was promoting illegal drug use during a school supervised event?
Individually answer the question Yes (Rule in favor of the student) No (Rule in favor of the school principal) Give legal reasoning Group decisions
5/4 The US Supreme Court ruled that school officials can prohibit students from displaying messages that promote illegal drug use. The majority held that the message, although cryptic, was reasonably interpreted as promoting marijuana use.
Three dissenting justices concluded that “the schools interest in protecting its students cannot justify disciplining Frederick for his attempt to make an ambiguous statement to a television audience simply because it contained an oblique reference to drugs.”
The dissent believed that student speech is protected if the message itself “neither violates a rule nor expressly advocates conduct that is illegal and harmful to students,” and concluded that Frederick’s “nonsense” banner did neither.