Category Archives: Uncategorized

Student Free Speech

Can schools restrict students the right to freedom of expression? Freedom of expression appears to be a confusing thing to talk about like when can you say anything you want or when your right is suppressed due to certain circumstances. One of many incidents or examples of this is Morse vs. Frederick case dealing with a student bringing a banner off school grounds, at a school supervised activity saying “Bong hits 4 Jesus”, which then was taken away from the student by a school administrator. The school stated that “ it encouraged illegal drug use”. The ruling was no for this case, but this isn’t always the ruling for these touchy cases.

 

       School should be a place where students can’t express themselves in classes and speak their mind to engage conversations and to ask questions. In this very controversial case Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent Community School District, the case dealt with students displeasure and disapproval of the Vietnam War. They wore black armbands one day at school showing protest what they “ saw as an unjust struggle”. They were forced to take off the armbands and then suspended, then eventually the school district was in return sued. In result the Supreme Court favored for the students stating that “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate … School officials do not possess absolute authority over their students.”

 

     Hazelwood School District vs. Kuhlmeier case is a very well known case and emotional for everyone especially women the right to express themselves. The issue once again schools trying to suppress students 1st Amendment, two junior girls wanted to put facts and put out awareness about divorces on teens and teen pregnancy.

 

Hate Speech

Where does freedom of speech end, and hate speech begin? The first Amendment can be very controversial at times. “Establishing the line between protected speech and a federal hate crime can be challenging for prosecutors and courts and depends on the facts of each particular case.”(http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/how-federal-law-draws-a-line-between-free-speech-and-hate-crimes/) Hate speech has always been a controversial topic because sometimes it can invoke violence. Comments intended as specific and immediate threats brush up against protections. For example, “It’s one thing to say, ‘Kill all the Jews,’ versus ‘Kill that Jew who was my kid’s school teacher who gave him an F,’” said James Weinstein, a constitutional law professor at Arizona State University. That begins to lie under fighting words. According to (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/how-federal-law-draws-a-line-between-free-speech-and-hate-crimes/), A 1942 Supreme Court decision called Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire — which involved a Jehovah’s Witness who cursed at a city marshal, calling him a “damned fascist” — articulated a “fighting words” doctrine that restricted insults intended to provoke an “immediate breach of the peace.” Although hate speech is technically legal, some of it can be taken as fighting words and become a problem. This is where the first amendment becomes controversial. It’s hard to tell what fighting words are because there is no clear definition in the amendment. It depends on the scenario and many other factors.

Hate Speech Right or Wrong

 

Is hate speech protected by the first amendment? To put it simply, yes it is. But it is more complicated than that. In the case R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, 505 U.S. 377 (1992) it makes things more clear to some people. In this case a young white male burned a cross on a black family’s lawn. Under Minnesota law it is  illegal to place, on public or private property, a burning cross, swastika, or other symbol likely to arouse “anger, alarm, or resentment in others on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, or gender.” The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled that the Minnesota law was unconstitutional because it violated the youth’s First Amendment free speech rights. He could have been held responsible for damages done to the property. In the second case, Wisconsin v. Mitchell, 508 U.S. 476 (1993), Mitchell and several black youth were outside a movie theater after viewing Mississippi Burning, in which several blacks are beaten. A white youth happened to walk by, and Mitchell yelled, “There goes a white boy; go get him!” Mitchell and the others attacked and beat the boy. This hate speech was tried and they were found guilty.

 

So what’s the difference well one was a public display the other was physical and seen as fighting words. Fighting words or words that target one person to act in a violent way are not protected by the first amendment. So in a heated debate you cannot say hateful words to cause them to react but you could write them on a sign and protest with the same words. So you can express your opinion in public but you can not confront someone who may take offense to it with those same opinions.

  • ABA Division for Public Education: Students: Debating the “Mighty Constitutional Opposites”: Hate Speech Debate

“ABA Division For Public Education: Students: Debating The “Mighty Constitutional Opposites”: Hate Speech Debate”. Americanbar.org. N. p., 2017. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.

CNN’s Chris Cuomo: First Amendment doesn’t cover hate speech

“CNN’s Chris Cuomo: First Amendment Doesn’t Cover Hate Speech”. @politifact. N. p., 2017. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.

Volokh, E. and Volokh, E.

Volokh, Eugene and Eugene Volokh. “No, There’S No “Hate Speech” Exception To The First Amendment”. Washington Post. N. p., 2017. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.

 

Hate Speech

Where does freedom of speech end, and hate speech begin? The first Amendment can be very controversial at times. “Establishing the line between protected speech and a federal hate crime can be challenging for prosecutors and courts and depends on the facts of each particular case.”(http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/how-federal-law-draws-a-line-between-free-speech-and-hate-crimes/) Hate speech has always been a controversial topic because sometimes it can invoke violence. Comments intended as specific and immediate threats brush up against protections. For example, “It’s one thing to say, ‘Kill all the Jews,’ versus ‘Kill that Jew who was my kid’s school teacher who gave him an F,’” said James Weinstein, a constitutional law professor at Arizona State University. That begins to lie under fighting words. According to (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/how-federal-law-draws-a-line-between-free-speech-and-hate-crimes/), A 1942 Supreme Court decision called Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire — which involved a Jehovah’s Witness who cursed at a city marshal, calling him a “damned fascist” — articulated a “fighting words” doctrine that restricted insults intended to provoke an “immediate breach of the peace.” Although hate speech is technically legal, some of it can be taken as fighting words and become a problem. This is where the first amendment becomes controversial. It’s hard to tell what fighting words are because there is no clear definition in the amendment. It depends on the scenario and many other factors.

Pray be allowed

The first amendment protects , the freedom of speech and religion, we have to the right as citizens to express ourselves, so should sports team be allowed to pray before a game in school? There are to two sides to this. The first side is against sports team’s praying in a school before the game.  According to Matt from ProConit, ‘’ Individuals can pray before, during, and after a games on their own or with others in their own groups. But as an organized event for the entire crowd, prayer at a game is not proper.’’ I agree with Matt, I think we as people have a right to express freedom of speech and religion, but we have to remember the  separation of church and state. A letter from, Thomas Jefferson,he writes,“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”  I agree with statement, I think if people want to pray before  a game on there own, that’s fine, but doing as a whole team, exudes other people that don’t have the same religion as you and vice versa. Some people claim the reason for pray is bring bonding to a team. I disagree with this, I think there is other ways for a team to bond as a whole, such as doing fun things together.  But the other side this is that is praying before a game is good thing. The dictionary defines the word, ‘’pray’’ as to offer devout petition, praise,thanks.’’ I don’t think there is anything wrong with offering thanks and devout petitions.  Amy Ayala says,’’ I recently spoke to a high school football referee about teams praying before games. He said that there is nothing wrong with praying before a game as long as a  team member begins it and recites it.’’ Amy response to the referee, ‘’Student’s are not obligated to pray before a game, just as they are not obligated to recite the pledge of allegiance, or say the words, ‘’ under God.’’ It is a personal choice to pray, and if the student’s decide to say a prayer before a game, no one stop them. ‘’ I feel it is people right as citizens to  rights to freedom of speech and religion, I just think overall, I think it is the right for schools to make decisions. Regarding what they think is best for them. I don’t think it is fair, but in the end schools just want what is best for us.

 

Sources:

‘’Ayala, Amy. “PRO/CON… Should Sports Teams Be Allowed to Pray before Games?”King’s Courier. Amy Ayala, n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.’’

 

‘’Hattiesburg American, Hattiesburg. “ProConIt – Should Prayer Be Allowed before High School Football Games?” ProConIt – Should Prayer Be Allowed before High School Football Games? Hattiesburg American, n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.’’

Free-Speech Rights of Public

Employees  Essential Question: Q:Does the First Amendment protect an employee’s freedom of expression at  a government workplace?   Before April 26th of 2016, public workers could be fired or demoted if their political views were known or thought to be known. However, the legality of the these actions changed on April 26th of 2016, when the Supreme Court came to a decision in the Heffernan vs. City of Paterson case. The court ruled in favor of Heffernan with Justice Stephen G. Breyer stating: “The government’s reason for demoting Heffernan is what counts here. When an employer demotes an employee out of desire to prevent the employee from engaging in political activity that the 1st Amendment protects, the employee is entitled to challenge that unlawful action.” What this statement means is that a public employee cannot be fired because they are seen participating in political activities outside of the workplace and/or if their political views are known. As Heffernan was demoted because his supervisor mistakenly assumed he was supporting an opposing candidate, this ruling in Heffernan vs. City of Paterson also forbids punishing an employee suspected association of a public employees’ political views. For example, if a public employee is suspected of having democratic views and or associating with that party, they cannot be fired on those suspected views alone.   Additionally, while public employees cannot be fired or demoted based on their political actions or views outside of the workplace, at work, public employees have restrictions on their free speech. Public employees cannot voice or express their political views at work because their actions at work are considered to be a part of the government, and the government cannot openly endorse one party or candidate. The only exception to this rule is if a public employee is voicing or expressing their “public concern” which is defined as speech involving a public issue that is important to the general public, and invokes a substantial amount of independent and continuing public attention. As written by the Congressional Research Service on page 30, the case of Pickering v. Board of Education ruled that the First Amendment “protects a public employee’s right, in certain circumstances, to speak as a citizen addressing matters of public concern: ” without fear of loss of government employment. The basis of the case of Pickering v. Board of Education was that the Supreme Court needed to balance “the interests of the teacher, as a citizen, in commenting upon matters of public concern and the interest of the State, as an employer, in promoting the efficiency of the public services it.”   Sources  “SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES.” Journal (American Water Works Association) 29.5 (1937): 699-713. Supreme Court of the United States. Web. “Supreme Court Strengthens Free-speech Rights of Public Employees.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2017. Midwest New Media, LLC – http://www.midwestnewmedia.com – (513) 742-9150. “Workplace Fairness.” Retaliation — Public Employees and First Amendment Rights. http://www.workplacefairness.org, n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2017. . “Supreme Court Free Speech Ruling Bolsters Employee Rights.” Law360. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.

Is School The New Church?

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North Carolina’s Governor stated the intended goal of the proposed law would be to, “clarify student rights to engage in prayer and religious activity in school, to create an administrative process for remedying complaints regarding exercise of those student rights and to clarify religious activity for school personnel.”

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that everyone in the United States has the right to practice his or her own religion, or no religion at all. So our founders created the First Amendment — to guarantee the separation of church and state.

It is important that no new law corrupt or infringe on the constitutional rights of our citizens.

It is clear that this law is yet another attempt to do just that. To enact this law will open the school district to lawsuits from students and faculty alike in regards to expressions of religion that are or could be construed as unconstitutional.   In the  court case of  “ Wallace  v.   Jaffree “ this is exemplified.  Another case that addresses this subject of prayer during school functions such as graduation was found to be unconstitutional when considering that the school would be public. This was concluded in the case of “ Lee v. Weisman”.   

    What is needed instead perhaps is clarification of the constitution, as expression is already protected in a personal way. Examples include a student’s personal views as ascribed in a paper perhaps what is forbidden is an organized school sponsored prayer or prayer group.  

 

 

 

USA News “School Prayer fight Begins Anew” USA News.2014/08/2014

“Wallace v. Jaffree.” Oyez, https://www.oyez.org/cases/1984/83-812. Accessed 22 Feb. 2017.

“Lee v. Weisman.” Oyez, https://www.oyez.org/cases/1991/90-1014. Accessed 22 Feb. 2017.