First Amendment Freedoms and Students Today

First Amendment
Freedoms and Students
The Student Perspective
Freedom of Speech
History of Freedom of Speech
• Freedom of speech began with Socrates at his trial in 399
– '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
• Favorable or unfavorable comments on political
• 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
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.
• 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
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
“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
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
• 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
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
• Great debate rages over whether freedom of
press should be extended to “bloggers.”
Freedom of Assembly
Freedom of
• “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
– 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
• 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
• 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
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
– 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
Definition of
Freedom of Petition
• The Supreme Court
widely define “redress of
• 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
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
– Definition of disruptive to the school
• Students play a significant role in shaping the
way we interpret First Amendment freedoms,
and will continue to do so in the future.