Tag Archives: Supreme Court

Censorship in schools

By definition censorship is, the removal, suspension, or restricted circulation of literary, artistic, or educational materials. Most parents want censorship in schools, because they don’t want their children being taught the exact opposite of what they preach at home. Also many people believe that young kids aren’t good at making decisions for themselves and they don’t always know right from wrong. So schools need to have censorship to filter out all the bad stuff and only teach students good values. Censorship gives parents peace of mind and shape the minds of our youth.  

There are still plenty of people who don’t like the idea of censorship in schools. Lots of people believe that censorship isn’t allowing students to form their own ideas. If you don’t allow students to form their own ideas then it’s hard for society to have different views on things. The court system would have to agree with these people, they tend to vote with the schools most of the time limiting censorship in schools and allowing students to become free thinkers. As long as schools don’t cross any religious boundaries, or are trying to push political views on students then the court will allow it.

“Censorship in Schools Pros and Cons List.” NYLN.org. N.p., 14 Jan. 2017. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

“Censorship in the Schools.” Advocacy, Legislation & Issues. N.p., 22 Sept. 2016. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

“Education World: Banning Books from the Classroom: How to Handle Cries for Censorship.” Education World: Banning Books from the Classroom: How to Handle Cries for Censorship. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

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Burning a Flag or Utilizing a Right?

 

Should burning the American Flag be considered symbolic speech, which therefore is protected by the First Amendment?

Burning the flag of the United States is a very controversial topic, but not enough light is shed on this important debate. An important question arises every so often questioning flag desecration and why it’s still legal, and time and time again it is answered with an unfortunate fact: It’s protected by the First Amendment (symbolic speech to be more specific). As of today, burning the flag is completely legal in accordance with free speech, and it’s important that others are free to express their right to speak out against the government. They say that it’s their way of protesting the government and that it’s just a piece of cloth, but this is where others misinterpret their actions. Most veterans support the passing of a constitutional amendment that allows Congress to ban the action of flag burning or desecration. They believe it is disrespecting them and what they fought and died for. However, some would make the case that it’s a slippery slope.

The idea of creating amendment to do something about this inappropriate action is nothing new. Before the Texas v. Johnson case of 1989 which made flag burning legal under the First Amendment, forty-eight out of the fifty states had installed flag protection laws similar to the Flag Protection Act passed by Congress in 1968. A 5-4 decision in the Texas v. Johnson case declared the Flag Protection Act an unconstitutional restriction of public expression. Again in 1990, the discussion was brought up in the cases of United States v. Eichman and United States v. Haggerty (argued together), and again it struck down the Flag Protection Act in a 5-4 decision, similar to the Texas v. Johnson case.

Each case in relation to flag burning proves that there is support for creating an amendment to ban the burning of the American flag. President Trump has stated in a tweet that there should be punishments for burning the flag. Though I agree that there should be some form of penalty, his terms are far too extreme. A moderate fine would be an acceptable form of punishment, but first comes the task of making the action illegal. As long as flag desecration is considered symbolic speech, it is protected under the First Amendment. However, if the action is done in the face of others such as former military members, it could be considered incitement and therefore the offender will face a penalty. In the end, this conflict is an internal struggle within the public. Even though some may not like it, it’s important to respect the rights of others. Nevertheless, the barrier between breaking the law and exercising your constitutional right is exceedingly fragile, ergo it’s important to distinguish between the two.

 

Works Cited:

Mauro, Tony. &quot;Burning the Flag: A Right Or a Wrong?&quot;<i> USA TODAY</i>, 26 May 1998, pp. 1A-2A.<i> SIRS Issues Researcher</i>, <a href=”http://sks.sirs.com&#8221; target=”_blank”>http://sks.sirs.com</a&gt;.

 

Hey, Robert P. &quot;Push Persists to Protect Stars and Stripes.&quot;<i> Christian Science Monitor</i>, 19 Jul 2001,<i> SIRS Issues Researcher</i>, <a href=”http://sks.sirs.com&#8221; target=”_blank”>http://sks.sirs.com</a&gt;.

 

“Facts And Case Summary – Texas V. Johnson”. United States Courts. N. p., 2017. Web. 14 Feb. 2017.

Tags: Symbolic Speech, First Amendment, Supreme Court, Flag Desecration, Incitement, President Trump

 

Can elections work as auctions?

The ethical and legal lines of campaign financing have been danced around for decades.  The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, amended in 1974, was a major turning point in ending the monetary free-for-all that was public and private donations to political campaigns.  By creating the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which imposed contribution and spending limits, the Act provided a basis for distinguishing between acceptable and unacceptable giving.  Only two years later, in Buckley v. Valeo, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the limitations on contributions to candidates for federal office while at the same time declaring a $1,000 limit on independent expenditures unconstitutional.  The Supreme Court revisited this issue many times, opening loopholes and creating more room for larger donations and Super PACs to take shape.  Recently, in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (FEC), wealthy businessman Shaun McCutcheon wanted to give a symbolic $1,776 to each of 28 Republican candidates for Congress in 2012.  Going back to Buckley v. Valeo, Watergate, and many other federal limitations established in this time, he could only donate to 16 of the 28 before the case was opened.  In a 5-4 decision, the Court struck down many caps and reopened the floodgates so that individuals were now allowed to donate as much as they pleased.  

In a government of the people, by the people, for the people, should financing caps be put in place or should an individual’s money be a critical tool of democracy?  Possibly the most crucial aspect of the First Amendment is the guaranteed freedom of speech, which protects the citizens right to express themselves any way they choose.  Money is a form of expression, most certainly in the United States.  Capitalism runs on freedom of expression of the customer, which furthers competition and eventually progress.  As put by Chief Justice John Roberts in explanation of the McCutcheon decision and how money plays a role in our elections, “There is no right more basic in our democracy, than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.”  He also commented that the First Amendment freedom-of-speech guarantee includes the right to endorse political candidates, and that to “restrict the political participation of some in order to enhance the relative influence of others” would be unconstitutional.  McCutcheon v. FEC was the closest decision that the Supreme Court could make, and the other side also leaves plenty to think about.  The four Supreme Court Justices voting for the FEC explained that campaign contribution limits have the sole purpose of cutting down quid pro quo corruption, where candidates receive cash from donors in an exchange for an under the rug “I’ll do this for you in office.”

Taken from the context within it was written, campaign donations should not have a cap.  So long as they come from actual people, supporting your personal prefered campaign ideology should come with no limit.

 

The Confederate Flag: A Symbol of the Past or Present in Schools?

The Civil War ended 150 years ago, however the issue of the Confederate flag has not disappeared with the war. The Confederacy is well alive in not only history textbooks, but on clothing, and flags. This brings up the big question; Can public schools ban the Confederate flag on their campuses? Does banning the Confederate flag violate the First Amendment? First to argue against the issue was Christiansburg High School in Virginia. A group of students began a demonstration when a student was punished for wearing a t-shirt with the Confederate flag on it. The students disagreed with the punishment, so they protested.  The Washington Post described the incident as a “peaceful student demonstration”. Those students who protested ended up getting suspended. The First Amendment includes Peaceable Assemblies, meaning that the people must be allowed to meet, protest, and march. The students at Christiansburg High School did just that, and did not show any harm to any persons nearby. One might say their t-shirts and flags are protected by Freedom of Speech, which explains how citizens are allowed to express themselves. But are there limits? Do those rights stop when students enter the school grounds?

In another case at Lakeside Middle School, a student showed up to school wearing a jacket with a Confederate flag on it. He was asked to remove the jacket, and when he refused, was suspended multiple times. The student ended up taking the case to court. Judge William B. Traxler Jr. ruled for the school district, basing his decision on three U.S. Supreme Court decisions: Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District in 1969, Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser in 1986, and Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier in 1988. Tinker v. Des Moines, and Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser ruled student’s rights are not as flexible as adult’s rights would be in other settings. Lastly, in Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier it was ruled that school administrators can’t punish students because they don’t agree with their expression, but they can if it is disrupting the school or people in the school.

The issue of the Confederate flags in public schools is it’s a very grey area. There are lots of technicalities that go along with the issue; the history of the school’s racial problems, violence, disruption and so on. It depends on the school and the students inside of it. Students are backed with the First Amendment to some extent, but there are limits in a school zone. Although, the school itself has to think about protecting other students in the school, as long as no person or their rights are harmed; if a student wishes to wear a t-shirt with the Confederate flag, they should be allowed to. The First Amendment protects them under Freedom of Speech, Peaceable Assembly and Symbolic Speech. If there were to be a clear obscenity, fighting words, or danger of other students, that student would not have their rights protected and would have to follow what the school says. In conclusion, students should be allowed to wear the Confederate flag in schools, as long as it isn’t disrupting the school or students in anyway or bringing up bad history that the school has.

Rights Redefined for Public Emplyees

Topic: 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  (513) 742-9150.

“Workplace Fairness.” Retaliation — Public Employees and First Amendment Rights.  n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.
. “Supreme Court Free Speech Ruling Bolsters Employee Rights.” Law360. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.