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West Virginia State Board of Education v.

Barnette
Legal Brief #1 Jen Swansburg

Citation:

Justia US Supreme Court. Retrieved April 1, 2017 from,


https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/319/624/

Facts:

The West Virginia Board of Education required public schools to include a specific
saluting of the flag as a mandatory part of school activities for students and teachers as
a display of patriotism.
Students refusing were expelled from school.
Parents were then subject to truancy laws due to students unlawful absence from school.

Issues:

Children from a Jehovahs Witness family refused to salute on religious grounds and
were sent home. However, the students were threatened with reform school and parents
threatened with prosecution for juvenile delinquency.

Ruling:

The US District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia determined the Board
could not enforce this rule against Jehovahs Witnesses because it interferes with their
First Amendment rights of freedom of religion.

Rationale:

First Amendment protections cannot support uniform opinions and rules such as saluting
the flag.
Requiring all students to comply and eliminating anyone who refused was not creating
uniformity.

Conclusion:

The state (or school district) cannot force patriotic displays which hinder the ability to
freely practice religion.
First Amendment rights do not harm others and therefore cannot be imposed upon.
Teachers and other staff members should not require students to salute the flag or display
patriotism in any other fashion, however, it can be taught and encouraged.
Bethel School District v. Fraser
Case Study #2 Jen Swansburg

Citation:

The American Bar. Student central: Key supreme court cases. Retrieved April 1, 2017
from
http://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/initiatives_awards/students_in_acti
on/bethel.html.

Facts:

Matthew Fraser, a senior in high school, gave a speech at an assembly to support the
nomination of a fellow student for office. The speech contained sexual references and
innuendos, but no obscenities.
The school suspended Fraser for three days and he became ineligible to speak at
graduation due to the perceived inappropriate nature of the speech.

Issues:

Matthews parents appealed the schools disciplinary actions based on the First
Amendment right to freedom of speech.
The Washington Supreme Court agreed with the Frasers that Matthews First
Amendment rights had been violated.
The school appealed to the US Supreme Court.

Ruling:

In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School, students First Amendment rights were
violated because their constitutional rights do not end at the doors of the school.
However, in this case, the Court ruled that Frasers First Amendment rights were not
violated and the school was within their rights to discipline Matthew Fraser for his
speech.

Rationale:

First Amendment rights in the Tinker case were violated because the students were
protesting a matter of public policy and it was considered a peaceful protest.
In the Fraser case, his First Amendment rights were not considered to be violated in his
discipline because of the lewd nature of the speech.
The Justices felt that a peaceful political protest does not impose on others while the lewd
nature of the speech did impose on the rights of the other students.
Conclusion:

While freedom of speech is a protected right under the First Amendment, when it
imposes upon others rights, it is no longer protected.
Students and adults are free to share opinions and beliefs, however, they must share it in a
respectful and appropriate manner.
This is important, especially in the teaching and learning of current events and issues.
The recognition of different opinions and points of view should be taught, as well as the
manner in which the sharing of these ideas is protected and not protected.