When Students Speak Away from School How Much Does the First Amendment Hear?
Seventh Commonwealth Education Law Conference: Critical Issues In Education Law and Policy, p. 107, 2009
7 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2011 Last revised: 28 Dec 2011
Date Written: December 14, 2011
Controversies arising over the extent of the First Amendment speech rights of public school students while at school are resolved by an analysis of the familiar quartet of major decisions of the United States Supreme Court: Tinker, Fraser, Kuhlmeier, and Morse. While these decisions have not removed all uncertainty over the scope of student speech rights, they at least have divided these cases into distinct categories and identified the standard to be applied within each category. The wide range of judicial views on the issue of when student off-campus speech can be the basis of discipline by school authorities makes it difficult for schools to develop sound policies to address this situation. Until a more definitive answer is provided by the U.S. Supreme Court, schools face this issue without clear judicial guidance.
Keywords: first amendment, public schools, off campus speech, free speech, constitutional law, education law
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