Students' Rights Archives
In Bell v. Itawamba County School Board (2012), the court ruled that school
officials did not violate the First Amendment by punishing a student for
posting a rap song criticizing two football coaches.
In Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser (1986), an important First
Amendment precedent, the Supreme Court said public school officials can
prohibit offensive student speech.
Beussink v. Woodland School District (1998) used the First Amendment to
protect the rights of a student who maintained a website that was critical
of his school.
Burnside v. Byars (5th Cir. 1966) protected students’ First Amendment
rights on school grounds. The decision served as a key precedent for Tinker
v. Des Moines (1969).
Canady v. Bossier Parish School Board (5th Cir. 2001) ruled that a public
school district did not violate students’ First Amendment rights when it
required uniforms for students.
Chandler v. McMinnville School District (9th Cir. 1992) decided that
restrictions on student speech should be evaluated in one of three
categories to determine constitutionality.
Dariano v. Morgan Hills U.S.D. (9th Cir. 2014) ruled that telling students
wearing American flag shirts remove them on Cinco de Mayo did not violate
the First Amendment.
Dean v. Utica Community Schools (E.D. Mich. 2004) said a high school
student newspaper was a limited public forum and rejected censorship of it
under the First Amendment.
Harper v. Poway Unified School District (9th Cir. 2006) ruled that a school
did not violate the First Amendment rights of a student punished for
wearing anti-gay T-shirts.
Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier (1988) decided that schools may
limit student First Amendment rights if student speech is inconsistent with
an educational mission.
Healy v. James (1972) dealt with student groups at public colleges. The
Court affirmed college students’ First Amendment rights of free speech and
Justice Clarence Thomas argued against granting qualified immunity to
university officials in a free speech case, but the U.S. Supreme Court
refused to take it up in Hoggard v. Rhodes.
Hosty v. Carter (7th Cir. 2005) applied a high school press censorship case
to the colleges. First Amendment advocates fear the decision will lead to
student speech censorship.
In Keefe v. Adams (8th Cir., 2016), a circuit court ruled that a public
college could expel a nursing student for Facebook posts that indicated a
lack of professionalism.
An Vermont Supreme Court decision demonstrates that courts early in
America’s history permitted fairly harsh discipline of students, even for
actions that took place off campus.
Lavine v. Blaine School District (9th Cir. 2001) said a school’s decision
to emergency expel a student who submitted a violent-themed poem did not
violate the First Amendment.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. that
school officials violated the First Amendment when it disciplined a
cheerleader for her vulgar Snapchat post.
Melton v. Young (6th Cir. 1972) represents a time a court had to grapple
with the troubling question of the First Amendment and Confederate flag
clothing in public schools.
In Morse v. Frederick, the Supreme Court ruled it is not a denial of First
Amendment rights for school officials to censor student speech they believe
encourages illegal drug use.
In a case involving two Native American students, Justice William Douglas
argued that the Supreme Court should settle the disputes in lower courts
over the constitutionality of hair regulations for students in New Rider v.
Board of Education, Pawnee County, Oklahoma.
Norton v. Discipline Committee of East Tennessee State University (1970)
involved college students’ First Amendment rights to distribute
“inflammatory” pamphlets on campus.
Nurre v. Whitehead (2010) involved a student, who alleged her First
Amendment rights were violated when the band could not perform a religious
instrumental at graduation.
Although the Supreme Court never accepted a case on hair length of public
school students, Justice Douglas dissented many times from the decision not
to hear such cases.
Papish v. Board of Curators of the University of Missouri (1973) reaffirmed
that universities cannot punish students for indecent speech that does not
Rosenberger v. Rectors and Visitors of the University of Virginia (1995)
ruled that the denial of student funds to a Christian-based magazine
violated the First Amendment.
Settle v. Dickson County School Board (6th Cir. 1995) said that a student’s
First Amendment rights were not violated when her teacher refused to accept
her paper on Jesus.
Taylor v. Roswell Independent School District (10th Cir. 2013) rejected the
First Amendment claims of students prohibited from further distributing
rubber fetus dolls at school.
Thomas v. Board of Education, Granville (2d Cir. 1979) ruled that a school
violated the First Amendment rights when they punished students for
creating an off-campus newspaper.
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969)
established that public school students have First Amendment rights. It is
the seminal decision on student speech.
West v. Derby Unified School District (10th. Cir. 2000) ruled that
suspending a high school student for drawing a Confederate flag did not
violate his First Amendment rights.