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Ten First Amendment Court Cases



3. Reaffirmed that public universities cannot punish students for indecent or offensive speech that does not disrupt campus order or interfere with the rights of others.

  1. Justice Abe Fortas stated that it “can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”
  2. School officials in Kansas did not violate the First Amendment rights of a middle school student when they suspended him for drawing a picture of the Confederate flag in math class… the drawing violated the school’s racial harassment and intimidation policy
  3. This case affirmed public college students’ First Amendment rights of free speech and association
  4. Schools may restrict what is published in student newspapers if the papers have not been established as public forums


  1. A public university that funds student-run publications cannot engage in viewpoint discrimination by denying funding to select publications based on the particular views expressed in those publications.
  2. Pennsylvania high school officials lacked the authority to discipline a student for an off-campus, vulgar Snapchat post that she made in frustration after not making the varsity cheerleading squad.
  1. Public school officials can prohibit student speech that is vulgar, lewd, or plainly offensive.
  2. Often referred to as the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case, the Supreme Court ruled that it is not a denial of the First Amendment right to free speech for public school officials to censor student speech that they reasonably believe encourages illegal drug use.

8. Extended Hazelwood’s framework “to subsidized student newspapers at colleges as well as elementary and secondary schools.”