Are Students Losing Their Free Speech Rights?

In a new article published in the Cleveland State Law Review, First Amendment Scholar David L. Hudson, Jr. discusses how in the decades since the Supreme Court decided Tinker v. Des Moines, school officials and courts have lost their respect for student speech rights:

Many years ago, Justice Fortas…proclaimed that “schools are not enclaves of totalitarianism” and school officials needed to respect the rights of students. Nearly fifty years later, many school officials do not respect the rights of students. School officials even punish students for purely off-campus expression that was not truly threatening and for wearing a t-shirt of the American flag. Students cannot appreciate the importance of individual liberties if they live in an environment that constantly disrespects such liberty and values conformity over all else.

In 1943, Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson warned that school officials should respect student rights lest they “strangle the free mind at its source and teach youth to discount important principles of government as mere platitudes.” The landmark case of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District displayed an attitude of gratitude for students and their rights.

Today, that appreciation has been lost. We must regain it.

To learn more, read the complete article, Losing the Spirit of Tinker v. Des Moines and the Urgent Need to Protect Student Speech.

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