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Students Shoud NOT Have the Tight to Free Speech

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According to the First Amendment Center, located at Vanderbilt University and at Washington, D.C.’s Newseum, there are twelve categories of speech that are not protected by First Amendment rights. These are: “obscenity, fighting words, defamation (libel, slander), child pornography, perjury, blackmail, incitement to imminent lawless action, true threats, solicitations to commit crimes, and plagiarism of copyrighted material” (para. 2). The center also adds that “some experts also would add treason, if committed verbally” (para. 2). Nowhere in this list is included “things we don’t like.” Public schools, including public colleges and universities, by law, have to extend first amendment rights to their students, since they are an extension of the government.
This was not always the case. When the First Amendment was adopted, it only applied to Congress and the Federal Government and not the states (First Amendment Center, n.d.). It was not until the 1925 Supreme Court Case of Gitlow v. People, where it was determined that the First Amendment “rights” were to be extended to the individual states, and by extension, the public schools, via the Fourteenth Amendment and its equal protection clause (1925). That did not automatically grant students first amendment rights. It took almost twenty more years until the Supreme Court specifically extended first amendment protection to students in the public school systems. In 1943, the case of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (319 U.S. 624, 1943), involved students who were Jehovah’s Witnesses, who refused to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, citing religious reasons. The school disciplined the students and their parents, but the students sued on...


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McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents, 339 U.S. 637 (1950). Retrieved from http://supreme.
justia.com/cases/federal/us/339/637/case.html
Rothman, J. E. (2001). Freedom of speech and true threats. Harvard Journal of Law and Public
Policy, 25(1), 283-367. Retrieved from http://ehis.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/
pdfviewer?sid=d83f43f6-ea9a-4bc9-a5ae-b656ccedd13c%40sessionmgr111 &vid=
12&hid=109
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969). Retrieved
from http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/393/503/case.html
U.S. Const. amend. I
Watts v. United States, 394 U.S. 705 (1969). Retrieved from http://supreme.justia.
com/cases/federal/us/394/705/case.html
West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnett, 319 U.S. 624 (1943). Retrieved from http://
Supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/319/624/case.html


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