Monday, May 14, 2007

Blog Entry # 7 - Free Speech

Reviewing the Morse v Frederick case there seems to be a few key elements in play that must be clarified before the Supreme Court can make a ruling.

I believe that the school does have a right to limit the forms of speech that take place when its students are gathered for the purposes of school assembly as established in the Frazier case. What seems to be at question here was wether the students were in assembly or because they were outside the school on the street, were in fact private citizens. Also, the fact that Joseph Frederick did not show up for school that day, but rather joined his classmates on the street may alude to the fact that he was not under school jurisdiction and not in assembly at the time, and therefore not subject to school guidelines.

It is my interpretation that wether the students are assembled within the 4 walls of the school or outwith the school they are still subject to the same code of conduct. It is also my interpretation that indeed the students were still in assembly even though they had been dismissed from class to spectate the Olympic procession. Furthermore, it is my interpretation that Joseph Frederick, merely by associating with his classmates of his own free will, and then by attending class immediately after the procession, demonstrated his attendance with the assembly and therefore is not protected by being a private citizen. For all intents and purposes, at the time of the incident, he was acting as a student of the school and should be subject to the codes of conduct.

I believe the Supreme Court should rule in this case that Joseph Frederick was in violation of the school's code of conduct and students should not be permitted from displaying banners or symbols contrary to the school's educational charter.

This was a very interesting case as it raised a lot of real life hypotheticals and highlights how subjective views on free speech can be. I believe students should be free to exercise their speech as far as it is not disruptive to the teaching process or disruptive of the standards the school maintains. For example, if the school has a policy against promoting lawlessness, students should be restrained from expressing any such speech whilst under the jurisdiction of the school. Their speech may be allowed if it is indirect, such as in the case of Tinker where students wore black clothing to protest the war in Vietnam.

I believe the value of free speech as guaranteed in the First Amendment is paramount to the establishment, success and prosperity of this nation and her people. The freedoms that we are afforded from political speech, freedom of the press, free exercse and establishment of religion allow us to prosper as human beings. We are completely free to explore the potential of our lives and to actualy realise whatever potential we discover for ourselves. We can participate in the political process without fear of govermental involvement or suppression, and we can fully discuss and debate any issue, anywhere, at any time.

4 comments:

Germine.A said...

Andrews, I totally agree with you that school has a right to limit the forms of speech. And all students are subject to the same code of conduct. . I also agree with you that students should be free in their speech, only if it is not disruptive to the school and its standards. Just like any place, school has its own rules and policies and students attending to that school must comply with those rules.

Anush B said...

Andrew, I agree that when a child is in school that the child must be under the jurisdiction of the school. However it looks as though Mr. Frederick didn’t attend class on the day of the incident. He went to the street where the school was and displayed a sign. It looks to me that he was a private citizen voicing an opinion. The fact that it happened in front of a school while school children where on the street complicates the situation, but doesn’t change the fact that he was not part of the school at that point in time. Any other person (i.e. a student of another school) could have gone to the same location, displayed the sign, and interacted with the students who were on the street. In that case the school would have no jurisdiction over that person. Even if Mr. Frederick joined his class later on doesn’t mean that he was a student at the time he displayed the banner. He could have acted as a private citizen until the point when he joined his class in school. Also it might be that he was planning not to go back to class at all, but was forced or convinced by the principal.

Jason S. said...

I was amazed at this fact: “The right to free speech was not incorporated until 1925”.Pg75

I'm glad you pointed out those key points Andrew, the public school has no jurisdiction over this kid. This falls under a private citizens right of freedom of speech. This case actually has nothing to do with the public school at all if the kid truly did not attend school that day. Hypothetically speaking, if he did actually attend school that day and waved the banner he still should be fine as long as “the speech does not disrupt the educational process”.

The legal precedent of the Tinker v Des Moines case shows that you can’t take freedom of speech lightly. Whenever civil liberties are violated the Supreme Court usually decides in favor of upholding the civil liberty in question. This will stand true for Morse v. Fredrick.

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