Guide The First Amendment in Schools: A Guide from the First Amendment Center

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Log in to read full chapters. The First Amendment Center, with offices in Virginia and Tennessee, works to preserve and protect First Amendment freedoms through information and education. Haynes was one of the principal organizers and drafters of a series of consensus guidelines on religious liberty in public education endorsed by a broad range of major religious and educational organizations.

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Read More. He came to the First Amendment Center from the public and private school systems of New York City, where he spent five years teaching high school history, English, and journalism, and coaching soccer and basketball. JOHN E. While at the First Amendment Center, Ferguson authored several articles for legal and educational journals, and acted as associate editor on the newest revisions of Finding Common Ground: A Guide to Religious Liberty in Public Schools. He also travels around the nation speaking to educators and civic groups about religious liberty in the public schools.

He serves as director of the Niswonger Foundation, a private operating foundation designed to provide educational opportunities in Southern Appalachia.


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ASCD respects intellectual property rights and adheres to the laws governing them. Learn more about our permissions policy and submit your request online. Justice Hugo Black filed a fiery dissent, contending that the police should have protected Feiner instead of placing him under arrest. Only an emergency can justify repression. House Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Rights:. Only in a true emergency should they resort to more drastic measures.

Hudson Jr. The difficult and sometimes painful task of our political and legal institutions is to mediate the appropriate balance between these two competing values. Proponents of the codes often argued the codes were necessary to prevent a rise in discriminatory harassment. Others said the push for the codes was merely part of a general movement of political correctness. Whatever the reason, this time period witnessed an amazing rise in the number of speech codes on college campuses. More than public colleges and universities regulated some forms of hate speech, Arati Korwar reported in Many speech codes sought to end hate speech, which code proponents said should receive limited or no First Amendment protection.

Critical-race theorists contend that existing First Amendment jurisprudence must be changed because the marketplace of ideas does not adequately protect minorities. They charge that hate speech subjugates minority voices and prevents them from exercising their own First Amendment rights. Those who argue for speech codes contend that hate speech is akin to fighting words, a category of expression that does not receive First Amendment protection. The speech codes that have been challenged in court have not fared well. Courts have struck these policies down as being either overbroad or vague.

A statute is overbroad if it prohibits a substantial amount of protected speech in its attempts to restrict unprotected speech.

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A statute or regulation is vague if it does not adequately inform a person what expressive conduct is prohibited and what expressive conduct is allowed, leaving a person to guess at its application. Administrators had adopted the speech code in after a campus anti-discrimination group threatened to file a class-action suit against the university.

The university published a guide explaining the speech code. The guide provided examples of harassing conduct, including:. Several complaints were filed against students under the policy. A psychology graduate student, identified only as John Doe, challenged the policy. He argued that discussion of certain controversial theories in his field of biopsychology, the study of individual differences in personality traits and mental abilities, might violate the policy.

The court agreed that the policy was overbroad. Several campus incidents triggered the adoption of a speech code targeting hate speech. The incidents included a fraternity erecting a picture of a black Fiji islander during a party. The policy did not prohibit speech expressing derogatory opinions about a specific racial group in a classroom discussion because the speech was not directed at a specific individual. A student newspaper and several students challenged the policy on First Amendment grounds.

New Hampshire. The university also contended that the policy was consistent with the major anti-discrimination employment law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of The university contended that because Title VII regulated hostile workplace environments, the university could regulate hostile academic environments. No, said the court, for several reasons, including: 1 differences between the employment and educational settings; 2 the fact that employers can generally be liable for the conduct of their employees, but universities often cannot be held liable for the conduct of students; and 3 Title VII is a statute that does not supersede the First Amendment.

If a balancing approach is applied, these pressing and tangible short run concerns are likely to outweigh the more amorphous and long run benefits of free speech. Though no challenges to university speech codes have reached the U. City of St. Paul, Minn. The youth was charged with violating a hate-crime ordinance, which provided:. The Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the statute, construing it to apply only to fighting words. But the U. Supreme Court reversed the Minnesota ruling unanimously, although the justices differed sharply in their reasoning.

To Scalia, such a ban would be like the government prohibiting only libel that was critical of the government. Legal commentator S.

Student punished for exercising First Amendment rights

Central Michigan University and Stanford University could not clear that hurdle. In , the 6th U.


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Central Michigan University. Some First Amendment advocates cheered these court decisions as the demise of campus speech codes. Some universities dropped their broad, wide-ranging policies, such as those found at the Universities of Michigan and Wisconsin, in favor of more narrowly crafted anti-harassment or code-of-conduct policies. Whatever the terminology used, many universities still regulate various forms of hate speech. Although these policies tend to punish harassing speech and conduct, as opposed to offensive speech, many of them still present First Amendment problems.

The 3rd U. Circuit Court of Appeals has weighed in on this issue twice—once in , and again in Controversy ensues when the funds raised through these fees are distributed to organizations with potentially objectionable purposes. Students opposed to those purposes may assert a First Amendment interest in not being forced to support ideas with which they disagree.

The case involved a group of Christian students at the University of Missouri at Kansas City who were applying for official status under normal university guidelines. The Court, however, adopted the rationale that the independent organization of students into clubs could not be construed as the action of the university or a representation of its official views, and therefore a Christian group could be treated no differently than any other student association.

The First Amendment in Schools - Charles C. Haynes, Sam Chaltain - Google Livres

To discriminate in such a manner would be to abandon the viewpoint-neutrality demanded of administrators. Again, the Court was divided. The Court had previously issued two influential opinions Abood v. Members of certain public organizations, those rulings held, could not be compelled to contribute monetarily to the advancement of ideas to which they were opposed.

The Supreme Court disagreed. The difference was that the university itself was not advocating or advancing any particular belief, but rather using the funds to establish a viewpoint-neutral forum for students to voice their own opinions and consider those of others. Furthermore, they found that to allow the student body a majority vote through which funds to disfavored groups could be withheld would be to deprive the forum of its necessary viewpoint-neutrality. Martinez , which the Court decided in , the Court found that a university could withhold recognition and funds from a student organization that did not comply with a state law requiring the organization be open to all students the organization in question would not admit gay students.

The school may choose to structure its program so that students will be refunded part of their fee if they do not want it to be used by student organizations, but failure to provide such an option will not violate the First Amendment rights of the students. Colleges and universities, as the training ground of new generations of thinkers, are a common source of controversy concerning what should be taught. Administrators at some public institutions of higher learning, in an effort to promote the values of diversity and equality, have in some cases tried to persuade professors to refrain from voicing certain viewpoints — even from pursuing certain fields of study — that could be seen as working against those ideals.

Though this concept is not explicitly addressed in the First Amendment, it has been adopted by the U. Supreme Court as a freedom protected alongside the other First Amendment values. If so, the court would determine whether that speech outweighs a government interest in operating its workplace efficiently.

That changed in Recent years have seen attempts to prevent studies of racial difference and employment policy at the University of Delaware and the history of homosexual communities in the Pacific Northwest at Idaho State University, and to punish a creative writing professor in Alaska for her exploration of child sexual abuse. Cases arising out of school-initiated censorship are almost invariably settled or decided against the school.

In some cases, state legislatures have tried to silence professors even when colleges have not. Such actions are almost invariably resolved in favor of the professors. This principle is not without uncertainty, however. Academic freedom will not cover personal attacks, criticisms or comments that excessively hamper the mission of the university, or expression that does not specifically address a public concern.

Finally, it is important to remember that private universities are governed by a different set of rules than their publicly funded counterparts.