First Amendment Freedoms and Students Today The Student Perspective Freedom of Speech History of Freedom of Speech • Freedom of speech began with Socrates at his trial in 399 B.C. – 'If you offered to let me off this time on condition I am not any longer to speak my mind... I should say to you, "Men of Athens, I shall obey the Gods rather than you."’ • Erasmus – Education of a Christian Prince (1516 A.D.) – “In a free state, tongues too should be free.” • John Milton (1644) – Areopagitica – “He who destroys a good book, kills reason itself.” • Voltaire – 1770 – “I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.” • 1791 – U.S. Bill of Rights incorporates Freedom of Speech as one of its most fundamental freedoms. Freedom of Speech • Freedom of Speech often defined as Freedom of Political Speech – Right to criticize political leaders without fear of punishment. • Favorable or unfavorable comments on political decisions. • Right to disagree with majority. – Can say what is on your mind even if it is not in the favor of the majority. Freedom of Speech • Society has placed limits on what can be said in the political arena, especially in public schools. • Students today have significantly less rights to speak freely under the assumption that free speech can often be construed as “disruptive to classroom conduct.” Supreme Court Definitions • Tinker Vs. Des Moines – Protected peaceful symbolic free speech in schools. – “Young men and women do not lose their fundamental rights because they are students. Students are entitled to express views freely under U.S. Constitution.” • Bethel School District No. 403 vs. Fraser – Sexually vulgar language is disruptive to the education environment and is not protected under the 1st Amendment • Hazelwood School District vs. Kuhlmeier – School sponsored newspapers are not subject to as much 1st Amendment protection as extracurricular student opinion forums. Freedom of Religion History of Freedom of Religion • Freedom of religion in the United States dates back to the Maryland Toleration Act (1649) of the Catholic Lord Baltimore. – “No person or persons...shall from henceforth be in any way troubled, molested or discountenanced for or in respect of his or her religion nor in the free exercise thereof. • The Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom written by Thomas Jefferson in 1779 again reiterated the colonist’s belief in religious freedom. “No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." What is Freedom of Religion? • Freedom of Religion establishes freedom from the government discriminating against certain religions and also freedom of free exercise of any religion. – The Establishment Clause • “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” • Separation of Church and State • Applies to state and local governments after ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment and the incorporation clause. Norman Rockwell What is Freedom of Religion? • The Free Exercise Clause – “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” – Freedom to practice any religion as long as it doesn’t affect the rights of others to practice their freedom of religion as well. • The Supreme Court has not held this right to be absolute since its addition to the Constitution. The Definition of Freedom of Religion Over Time • 1972 - The State of Wisconsin vs. Jonas Yoder – Three Amish families sued the State of Wisconsin. – Their religion disagreed with the School Attendance Law. • Requires children to attend school until age sixteen. – Supreme Court ruled in favor of Yoder. • Wisconsin failed to prove interest in education more important than freedom of religion. – Provided a test for balancing state interest in education against Freedom of Religion. Freedom of Religion and Students Today • Students have the right to practice respective religions around their public education, and the public school cannot infringe on the right for students to practice respective religions. • Teachers are much more restricted on how they can practice religion around their workplace, because the state or its employees cannot respect a specific religion while on the job. Freedom of Press Freedom of Press • Freedom of the Press was a concept formed during the early American press when someone could be punished for sedition against the English Crown. • John Hancock was the first to publish a newspaper in the colonies under license of the governors of the colonies. • The Trial of John Peter Zenger by the colonial governor of New York in 1735. Freedom of Press • “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.” • Legal definition – “The right, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution to publish and distribute information in books, magazines, and newspapers without government intervention. • Protects what some call, “The fourth branch of government,” the media. Freedom of Press Defined Today • Schneck Vs. United States (1919) – Repealed 1921 – Upheld the Espionage Act of 1917, and the Sedition Act of 1918. • Restricted Freedom of Press during wartime. • Restricted Freedom to publish articles that were, “Disloyal, profane, or abusive about the form of government of the United States or the Constitution of the United States, or the military or naval forces of the United States.” • Established the “Clear and Present Danger Test.” • Redefined by Brandenberg vs. Ohio (1969) Established Imminent Lawless Action Test Freedom of Press Defined Today • The federal government cannot stop the press from publication of material, even if it will divulge state secrets, or endanger national security. • The federal government cannot make a reporter divulge his/her source. • Reporters cannot spread false facts that could damage a person’s reputation – given proper evidence. • Great debate rages over whether freedom of press should be extended to “bloggers.” Freedom of Assembly Freedom of Assembly • “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.” • Legal definition – The individual rights of people to collectively assemble and promote or pursue a common interest for the good of the group. • Many countries include the freedom to assemble in their constitutions. – U.S., Germany, France, Canada, Hong Kong (Civil Charter), India, Turkey, and Taiwan Freedom of Assembly • Freedom to Assemble is absent from the Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, and the English Bill of Rights. • During the monarchial government, English citizens assembled at their own risk of persecution and punishment. • That absence of the written right allowed monarchs to quell rebellion and silence religious groups they did not agree with. Freedom of Assembly • First stated in Pennsylvania Declaration of Rights in 1776. – "That the people have a right to assemble together, to consult for their common good.” • Proposed as part of an amendment by James Madison. • Many thought it to be unnecessary to write down. – "Shall we secure the freedom of speech, and think it necessary, at the same time, to allow the right of assembly? If people converse freely, they must assemble for that purpose; it is a self-evident, unalienable right which the people possess . . . it is derogatory to the dignity of the house to descend to such minutiae?” Freedom of Assembly Defined Over Time • Shuttleworth Vs. City of Birmingham – Right to assemble was denied under the disguise of a city ordinance on parade regulation. – No Threat to public safety was observed. • NAACP Vs. Alabama – Government may make no law aimed to overtly or covertly discourage citizens from joining groups they find undesirable to government. Freedom of Assembly Today • Students are granted the right to assemble peaceably and that right cannot for the simple reason that a young person is a student. • Students may not become violent in their assembly. • Students may not infringe upon the rights of others to assemble for the purpose of learning if their purpose is to redress grievances instead of education. Freedom of Petition Freedom of Petition • 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. • The American people normally rely on elected officials to address the federal government, – The right is important if representatives do not address grievances in a manner fitting to the public need. Freedom of Petition • Freedom of Petition was included in the Magna Carta – Barons wanted to petition King John. – Also included in House of Commons (1669) – Included in the English Bill of Rights (1689) • Also included in the Declaration of Independence – “In every stage of these oppressions, we have petitioned for redress, in the most humble terms; our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury.” • Declarations of Rights in many states also included right to petition. – Pennsylvania (1776), North Carolina (1776), Massachusetts (1790), and New Hampshire (1784) Definition of Freedom of Petition • The Supreme Court widely define “redress of grievances.” • However, many times the government has restricted the right. – Alien and Sedition Acts – Gag Rule for abolitionists – Petitioning for the recall of the Sedition and Espionage Acts during WW1 were restricted. • NAACP Vs. Dutton Freedom of Petition Today • Right to petition has been widened to include the Referendum, Initiative, and Recall Process in many states so people have further access to redress grievances if their representatives turn a deaf ear. • Students have the right to so the same, being able to address school grievances with their school board, or state school officials if their local school officials decide their opinion is not pertinent. The First Amendment and Students • Many First Amendment rights have been broadened to give students the freedoms they are entitled to as American Citizens. • Many rights have been restricted today as well. – Definition of disruptive to the school environment? • Students play a significant role in shaping the way we interpret First Amendment freedoms, and will continue to do so in the future.