Should the burning of the Flag be protected by the 1st Amendment?

Topic: Burning of the Flag

Should burning of the Flag and/or taking a knee during the national Anthem be protected by freedom of speech? Several, people believe that it should be banned and the actions presented was not in any way respectful, although others have thought that it should be allowed and is also, away to express their freedom.

Many sources state that the burning of the American flag is protected by the 1st Amendment, although it is unpleasant. Meanwhile, Donald Trump our well known president, thinks differently about the situation. Stating that “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or a year in jail!”. But, others sees it is away to express disagreement. Just like kneeling during the National Anthem. If we ban the burning of the flag we should might as well ban our freedom of expression in total, then how free would we be?

 “All You Need To Know About Why NFL Players Are Taking A Knee And Where It Came From.” The Independent. N.                       p., 2018. Web. 5 Oct. 2018.

“Flag Burning Or Desecration.” American Civil Liberties Union. N. p., 2018. Web. 5 Oct. 2018.

“Flag Burning And The First Amendment: Yet Another Look At The Two – National Constitution Center.” National Constitution Center – constitutioncenter.org. N. p., 2018. Web. 5 Oct. 2018.

Public Schools Vs Student Rights

By: Nadia Abrouq

             At What point should public schools be allowed to infringe on students’ rights? This case is varied in opinion, while some believe schools should be allowed to protect others from world issues, more relevant to today, hate speech in schools, and if schools should ban language of and similar, follows this same issue. But matters of things like peaceful protest with no direct offense to anyone, or acts of expression like a hairstyle that is common within a specific group of people. Schools have been infringing on students’ 1st amendment rights of speech, expression, assembly, and the freedom to petition the government. And, the Tinker v. Des Moines supreme court case is what permitted these acts in public school systems.

             The Tinker v. Des Moines supreme court case was a lawsuit that pertained to the Des Moines school district suspending students Mary Beth Tinker and Christopher Eckhardt, due to them wearing black armbands with peace signs on them in protest of the Vietnam War. The students had set out for a peaceful speechless protest, so for a week, they decided to wear these armbands, but when the school found out about the protest, they band them from the school. When the students wore the bands to school, the schools’ administration suspended them until the end of the week. They spent four months in court arguing the infringement on freedom of speech, and the court found the school district at no wrong. But in that light, the petitioner should have argued that the school infringed on the students’ rights of expression, assembly, and the freedom to petition the government. 

              While the students weren’t speaking, so there was no infringement on freedom of speech, which can still be argued, the school stopped the students from giving their opinion on the issue facing the U.S. during the ’60s. This case allowed schools to infringe on rights if deemed a distraction to the learning space. But what determines what a distraction is? How can a seemingly basic armband cause a distraction of learning?  The evident issue is the argument that the school did this for their agenda. The banding of the armbands violates the freedom of expression, and the apparent act in preventing them from protesting their opinion on the war violated the freedom to assemble and freedom to petition the government.

Why should schools be allowed to take away student right, what limitations do they have, because now they’re using the excuse of distraction to fight their agenda, which can do more harm than good in most cases? The Tinker Vs. Des Moines’ supreme court case brought about this commonality, and all because the case in its-self was not presented correctly. It didn’t provide the argument of schools infringing on more than just one right, but the countless acts that will follow in its place when not dealt with immediately.

References

              Barber-Lester, Kelly, and Torrie K. Edwards. “From the Editorial Board: Freedom of Expression in Schools and Universities.” High School Journal, vol. 102, no. 1, Fall 2018, pp. 1–3. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1353/hsj.2018.0016.

Beard, Kayla. “Free Expression at OU: Where You Can and Can’t Protest.” Athens News, 23 Aug. 2018, p. 13. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f6h&AN=131385721&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

{{meta.siteName}}. (2020). {{meta.pageTitle}}. [online] Available at: https://www.oyez.org/cases/1968/21 [Accessed 20 Feb. 2020].

Underwood, Julie. “Under the Law.” Phi Delta Kappan, vol. 98, no. 4, Dec. 2016, pp. 76–77. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1177/0031721716681785.

When Does a Prayer Cross the LIne?

Beginning in 1999, monthly town meetings held in Greece, New York, started with a prayer given by local clergy members. These meetings were open to the public, and there was no policy regarding who led the prayer or what the content of sed prayers were about. The vast majority of prayers given at the town’s meetings were delivered by Christian clergy members. In 2007, complaints arose about the town’s prayer practices, arguing that the town violated the First Amendment by preferring Christianity over other faiths. The district court favored the town, saying that the plaintiff failed to provide credible evidence that there was intentional seclusion of non-Chrisitan faiths. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said that the practices did indeed violate the Establishment Clause because there was a clear preference for Christian prayers. 

This case discusses whether the mention of prayer at a legislative session violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that mentioning a prayer at a legislative session does not in fact violate the First Amendment and the Establishment Clause was not meant to forbid legislative prayer. The context of the prayer does not need to be undenominational, because this would cause courts to play the role of arbiters of religious speech– involving the government in religion to an extent that is forbidden under the Establishment Clause. The Court also believed that the prayers in question did not violate this tradition and are presentable under the First Amendment. On the other hand, the dissent argued that the Town of Greece should do more to make its legislative prayer inclusive of all faiths. The town did not make a significant effort to inform non-Christian clergy about the choice to deliver an invocation, marginalizing religious minorities. The dissent also stated that the town failed to represent a variety of religions in its meetings, amounting to the unconstitutional preference of one religion. To do this in a public forum forces individuals who do not agree with the beliefs represented in the prayer to either accept it or visibly disagree. 

The Town of Greece v. Galloway case was impactful to our country’s history because the decision allowed prayers, which invoked particular religious affiliations, to be said at government meetings. In a similar Supreme Court case, Lynch v. Donnelly, residents of the city and local members of the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the inclusion of a Nativity scene in a holiday display at a public park. These people did not think “a seasonal holiday display that included a manger scene on government property” was constitutional. I disagree and would argue that this Nativity scene did not violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment. In addition, the attached Florida Bar Journal states, “The Supreme Court, as presently constituted, appears to have effectively foreclosed any constitutional challenges to religious prayers at legislative meetings, absent blatant displays of proselytizing or coercion, as long as the legislature employs a facially inclusive method of selecting, from within its geographic borders, those who offer invocations”. This is consistent with my position, because as long as prayers given at legislative meetings are open to the public to participate in, they fit within the guidelines of the First Amendment. To conclude, I agree with the Supreme Court’s decision in the Town of Greece v. Galloway case.  Opening a governmental town meeting with a prayer is not a violation of the Establishment Clause and is uniform with legislative prayer sustained by the court. 

Works Cited

“Lynch V. Donnelly.” Mtsu.Edu, 2020,  https://www.mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/737/lynch-v-donnelly.

Rohr, Marc. “What Are the Constitutional Limitations on Prayers at Local Government Meetings?” Florida Bar Journal, vol. 93, no. 3, May 2019, pp. 58–61. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=geo,cookie,ip,url,cpid&custid=s7324964&geocustid=s7324964&db=aph&AN=136190403&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

“Town of Greece v. Galloway.” Oyez, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2013/12-696. Accessed 11 Feb. 2020.

no more dress codes!?

In 1965, Mary Beth Tinker, Christopher Eckhardt, and a few other high school students decided to wear black armbands to school to protest against the Vietnam War. The school board responded to the students by banning the wear of armbands. The school board warned the students to not wear the armbands to school, but they arrived with the armbands and were immediately suspended. The student’s parents were furious about the school district violating the student’s rights, and the case was taken to court. The case challenged the extent of the freedom of speech, protected under the First Amendment, students had in a classroom setting. 

In the U.S. the First Amendment protects peoples’ freedom of expression to express their thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and opinions on different issues and ideas. Although the students had the freedom of expression to wear what they could, there are limitations to what someone can say or do. These limitations include slander, pornography, copyright violation, etc. and these limitations protect the rights of others. According to an article from Oyez, the school district had the right of obscenity because they feared that the armbands were offensive in a school setting therefore hurtful and distracting to other students. The students had the exception of symbolic speech, which is the right to express an idea that doesn’t use words, which in this case, was the wearing of the armbands that symbolized the protest against the war. The court ruled 7-2 favoring the students. They ruled since the armbands were protected under the First Amendment of symbolic speech, the school officials can not stop student’s freedom of expression unless it disrupts the educational process. Schools must have a logical reason for why they prohibit the wear of certain clothing/ accessories. The court case highlights the limitations on school dress codes. An article from The First Amendment Encyclopedia states the effects of Tinker vs Des Moines on today’s dress codes and the negative and positive effects of dress codes. Nowadays, students, mainly from public schools, can wear mostly whatever they want, and schools can not suppress this right unless it disrupts or harms the rights of other students.

I believe that the court made the right decision to protect the freedom of expression of the students. I agree that the students had the right to express their thoughts and opinions on the Vietnam War, although students, in general, give up certain rights when they go to school. A school is a place where people learn, and this environment can negatively and positively affect students based on other students and teachers. In this case, the school had regulations to prevent possible distractions, but many, if not most of the students, were not distracted by the armbands. Although schools have a right to regulate what students should not wear to protect the rights of other students, the armbands were a form of peaceful protest that did not harm nor distract other students.

Tinker bell & The lost amendment

In 1965 around the Vietnam War, a group of students in Des Moines decided they wanted to express their feelings towards the war.  Students gathered in the home of Christopher Eckhardt to promote peace and a truce to the war by wearing black armbands from December 16 to New Years Eve.  When the principal found out about the plans, he threatened the students to remove the arm accessory without refusal and if there were problems with following the schools new directions, suspension would be the consequences for students.  In this instance, Mary Beth Tinker, the co leader of the demonstration, and Eckhardt were the first to be suspended. The following day, Mary Beth’s brother, John Tinker also followed in his sisters footsteps of an anti war protest and ultimately, all three of these students ended up suspended from school until New Years Eve.

With help from the parents, the students decided to sue the school for violating their rights of the First Amendment (right of expression).  However, the court was able to dismiss this case by 7-2 and further uphold that the schools actions were acceptable and reasonable.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit had also declared this decision without any opinions or further discussions.  The majority opinions on this case by others was brought by Justice Fortas with the Court declaring that the students should not be punished for expressing their opinions and that the bands were a wish to prevent controversy.  Some other opinions, according to the United States Courts believed that at school, students should learn and not teach or be distracted by outside distractions.  There’s a time and place for everything and this was not the time or place as some Justices had put.

Although the court had stated that the school did the right thing with suspending the students, I agree with the majority opinions at the time.  I believe that the students were peacefully and silently protesting a bad thing, war, with an armband. There were no harmful or hurtful words, it was simply a peace sign, in hopes for showing awareness to the Vietnam War.  I think the schools major consequence for the students should have just asked them to take the bands off and not be as severe as to suspend them for expressing themselves and probably many other Americans opinions at the time.  Of course there are limits (ACLU) to the First Amendment and I also agree with the part that this act could have been made as a distraction to others learning and that some expressions should be left outside of school grounds.  Justice Potter Stewart, who was involved in this case, also made comments similar to mine saying that children don’t have full access to these rights and there’s a difference between words and actions.

Works CIted:

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“{{Meta.Pagetitle}}”. {{Meta.Sitename}}, 2020, https://www.oyez.org/cases/1968/21. Accessed 12 Feb 2020.

C-SPAN Landmark Cases | Tinker v Des Moines

” C-SPAN Landmark Cases | Tinker V Des Moines “. Landmarkcases.C-Span.Org, 2020, http://landmarkcases.c-span.org/Case/24/Tinker-v-Des-Moines. Accessed 12 Feb 2020.

Landmark Supreme Court Cases (555) 123-4567, L.

Landmark Supreme Court Cases (555) 123-4567, landmarkcases.dcwdbeta.com. “Landmark Supreme Court Cases | Cases – Tinker V. Des Moines”. Landmark Supreme Court Cases, 2020, https://www.landmarkcases.org/cases/tinker-v-des-moines. Accessed 12 Feb 2020.

Tinker v. Des Moines – Landmark Supreme Court Ruling on Behalf of Student Expression

“Tinker V. Des Moines – Landmark Supreme Court Ruling On Behalf Of Student Expression”. American Civil Liberties Union, 2012, https://www.aclu.org/other/tinker-v-des-moines-landmark-supreme-court-ruling-behalf-student-expression. Accessed 12 Feb 2020.

Facts and Case Summary – Tinker v. Des Moines

“Facts And Case Summary – Tinker V. Des Moines”. United States Courts, 2020, https://www.uscourts.gov/educational-resources/educational-activities/facts-and-case-summary-tinker-v-des-moines. Accessed 14 Feb 2020.

Black armbands oh my!

First Amendment Blog: Tinker v. Des Moines

By: Alyssa Knutson

           In December of 1965, a group of high school and junior high students wore black armbands with a peace symbol in protest to the Vietnam War. The students were suspended from school for refusal to remove the armbands. The school had put regulations in place, in hopes of dismantling the protest. These regulations were made known to the protesters as well as the school board. During this time a vast number of Americans were opposed to the Vietnam war on moral grounds. This war brought forth a large amount of devastation, blood shed, confusion as well as seemingly lacking a clear objective. Protests among the youth were becoming very popular in opposition to the Vietnam War. With regards to the situation, the students and their parents sued the school.

           The case centers on whether educational authorities can censor student’s speech, assembly, and peaceful expression. Since public schools are protected by the first amendment, the school would have to justify that permitting this freedom would be causing a nuisance for the school to function. In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the armbands represented pure speech. Adding to this, the court made it well known that the students first amendment rights were also not lost upon entering the school grounds. 

           The majority opinion stated that the students in question did not lose their first amendment rights on school grounds. Furthermore their actions in wearing the armbands did not constitute a “material and substantial interference” with the school environment. The dissenting opinion held that the presence of the armbands did present a distraction sufficient to interfere with students ability to perform their work, thereby making it impossible for the school officials to maintain an orderly environment.

         I believe that in a public school setting students should be able to express themselves. As long as they are doing so in a peaceful and respectful manner there should be no need for the school to be upset. The dissenting opinion held by the justices held that the wearing of armbands was a sufficient distraction to the academic environment and therefore should not be permitted. The main thought of the justices who supported the students believed that the school and it’s officials did have the authority to maintain an orderly and safe academic environment. However, the wearing of armbands did not interfere with the safety and academic environment of the school, therefore should be permitted.

“{{Meta.Pagetitle}}”. {{Meta.Sitename}}, 2020, https://www.oyez.org/cases/1968/21. Accessed 22 Feb 2020.

https://www.oyez.org/cases/1968/21

“Tinker V. Des Moines Podcast”. United States Courts, 2020, https://www.uscourts.gov/about-federal-courts/educational-resources/supreme-court-landmarks/tinker-v-des-moines-podcast. Accessed 22 Feb 2020.

https://www.uscourts.gov/about-federal-courts/educational-resources/supreme-court-landmarks/tinker-v-des-moines-podcast

“Tinker V. Des Moines – Landmark Supreme Court Ruling On Behalf Of Student Expression”. American Civil Liberties Union, 2012, https://www.aclu.org/other/tinker-v-des-moines-landmark-supreme-court-ruling-behalf-student-expression. Accessed 22 Feb 2020.

“Tinker V. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969)”. Justia Law, 2020, https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/393/503/#tab-opinion-1947775. Accessed 22 Feb 2020.

Do you have free Speech in school?

In December of 1965, a small group of students wore a black armband to support a truce in the Vietnam war. The students wore the armband, however the school of Des Moines disliked the protest of war and demanded the students take off the armband or they would be suspended from school. Beth Tinker and Christopher Eckhart refused to take off their armbands and was suspended and the next day John Tinker wore an armband and was suspended. Through the parents, the students sued the school for breaking their first amendment right of expression. Through the first few court cases, the courts ruled in favor of the school. However, once the case reached the supreme court, the court reached a 7-2 decision for Tinker. The court’s statement, delivered by Justice Abe Fortas, said that the armbands represent a form of speech entirely separate from the actions or conduct of those participating in it. The students do not lose their first amendment rights when they stepped onto school property. The school had no right to punish their students as there was only a fear of possible disruption rather than any actual interference.

Justice Potter Stewart wrote that children are not necessarily guaranteed the full extent of First Amendment rights. Justice Byron R. White wrote a separate concurring opinion that the majority’s opinion depends on the distinction between communication from words and communication from actions. Justice Hugo L. Black wrote that the first amendment does not allow for any one to express any opinion at any time and that because of the appearance of the armband it distracted other students ability to learn thus giving the school the right to discipline the students. Justice John M. Harland somewhat agreed with Justice Black that school officials should have a wide authority over their students unless it can be proven that it is from a motivation other than a legitimate school interest.

In my opinion, the students’ freedom of speech rights do not disappear in school. If the school can force a student not to wear something, when it isn’t making a distraction, what stops the school from forcing a certain belief onto them? First amendment rights are applicable to everyone, no matter the environment they are in. There is no clause in the first amendment stating that the rights are limited in certain places. The supreme court clearly made the right decision in this case, while the lesser courts were unable to do so. 

Roth v. United States Obscenity Court Case

The Roth v. United States case of April 22, 1957 argued whether mailing obscene circulars and an obscene book violated a federal obscenity statute. Samuel Roth ran a literary business, Roth’s Mail-order Book Business, in New York where his conviction was combined with the Alberts v. California case. The law in California was changed by Alberts after he was similarly convicted of mailing obscene and lewd books and also advertising obscenity in his products. This also interferes with whether the mailing laws of California infringed on the rights of people through the First Amendment. The freedom of expression in the Amendment was questioned in this court trial and whether California could have restrictions and prohibitions on mailing or selling such obscene materials.

The court came out with a 6-3 decision to rule that obscenity was “not within the area of constitutionally protected speech or press” and that Roth was guilty. This decision was written by Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. where he had the majority opinion. The dissenting and unpopular opinion was that this particular obscenity was protected by the First Amendment, but was very overruled by the second and third decisions 7-2. It was recognized that the First Amendment was “not intended to protect every utterance or form of expression”, and that these materials had no social importance.The Court also held a test to whether something could be considered obscene or not, ruling that it was if the average person felt that the dominant theme of the specific material appealed to prurient interest. The issue of whether the material was considered obscene or not was decided that the First Amendment does not protect obscene speech. According to the Justia Law evaluation of the Roth v. United States case, this decision was ultimately superseded by the 1973 Miller v. California court case, where the court redefined its definition of obscenity.

In succeeding court cases and ultimately the 1973 case, the court lessened their definition of obscenity, but it still is not protected by the First Amendment. According to The First Amendment Encyclopedia article on Mtsu.edu, this case merited no First Amendment protection because it was labeled libel and “fighting words”. I would agree with the decision of Roth v. United States and the further ruling of the definition of obscenity because it could be considered defamatory statements in written form and also fits the fighting words definition. The justices of the case opened up new discussions on how obscenity is defined and tests based on community standards. Later court cases also helped define the rules like the rule known as the Roth or Memoirs test, which came from the 1966 court case Memoirs v. Massachusetts. While the First Amendment should protect all forms of free speech, I would agree that there needs to be limits and that this defined obscenity should not be protected.

Works Cited:

“Roth V. United States, 354 U.S. 476 (1957).” Justia Law. N. p., 2020. Web. 22 Feb. 2020.

“Roth V. United States.” Mtsu.edu. N. p., 2020. Web. 22 Feb. 2020.

“Roth v. United States.” Oyez, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1956/582. Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

“Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without freedom of speech.” ~Benjamin Franklin, writing as Silence Dogood