Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bethel v. Fraser

Case Name: Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser

Year: 1986

Result: 7-2, favor Bethel

Related Constitutional Issue/Amendment: Amendment I, Freedom of Speech

Civil Rights or Civil Liberties: Civil Liberties

Significance/Precedent: This ruling by the Burger Court established limits on the freedom of speech outlined in Amendment I of the U.S. Constitution. Fraser made inappropriate comments, and the school had the right to discipline Fraser for what he said. Even though Fraser is entitled to his freedom of speech, the school can regulate this.

Quote from Majority Opinion: "The undoubted freedom to advocate unpopular and controversial views in schools and classrooms must be balanced against the society's countervailing interest in teaching students the boundaries of socially appropriate behavior...The First Amendment does not prevent the school officials from determining that to permit a vulgar and lewd speech such as respondent's would undermine the school's basic educational mission."

Summary of Dissent: The dissent believed that it was wrong for the school to limit Fraser's freedom of speech since what they think is inappropriate is their opinion.
Quote: "...where speech is involved, we may not unquestioningly accept a teacher's or administrator's assertion that certain pure speech interfered with education."

Six-word Summary: Schools can regulate bad student language

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