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The First Amendment. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”.

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The first amendment
The First Amendment

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”


First principles
First Principles

  • The First Amendment affirms the freedom of the individual.

  • Free expression is the foundation — the cornerstone — of democracy.

  • The First Amendment tells the government to keep its “hands off” our religion, our ideas, our ability to express ourselves.

  • Other people have rights, too.

  • When rights collide, government must balance them.

  • The First Amendment helps us make choices.


The tinker standard tinker v des moines independent school dist 1969
The Tinker StandardTinker v. Des Moines Independent School Dist. (1969)

Student speech cannot be censored as long as it does not “materially disrupt class work or involve substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others.”


The fraser standard bethel school district no 403 v fraser 1986
The Fraser StandardBethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser (1986)

Because school officials have an “interest in teaching students the boundaries of socially appropriate behavior,” they can censor student speech that is vulgar or indecent, even if it does not cause a “material or substantial disruption.”


The hazelwood standard hazelwood school district v kuhlmeier 1988
The Hazelwood StandardHazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier (1988)

Censorship of school- sponsored student expression is permissible when school officials can show that it is “reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns.”


How do the courts decide
How Do the Courts Decide?

The courts are divided on several important legal questions, including:

  • whether school officials have any legal authority to regulate student online expression created off-campus;

  • whether and under what standard school officials can regulate off-campus student speech that is distributed at school either by the student who created it or other students;

  • whether school officials have more authority to regulate student online speech that is created off-campus but aimed directly at the school audience.


Three types of student web sites
Three Types of Student Web sites

  • Sites that are offensive, obnoxious and insulting.

  • Sites that are offensive, obnoxious and insulting, and also contain some sort of veiled threat of violence or of destruction of property.

  • Sites that contain an outright blatant threat.


How would you decide the case

How Would You Decide The Case?

And what would your reasoning be?


Key questions to consider
Key Questions to Consider

  • Is the student speech school-sponsored? If yes, then Hazelwood applies and great deference is given to school officials.

  • Is the student speech vulgar, lewd or plainly offensive? If so, a court might apply Fraser.

  • If the speech is not threatening, school-sponsored, or lewd, a court will apply Tinker and ask whether school officials can reasonably forecast that the student expression will create a substantial disruption of school activities or invade the rights of others.


The three r s of the first amendment
The “Three R’s” of the First Amendment

  • Rights -- Individual (Each of us is born with certain inalienable rights)

  • Responsibilities -- Mutual (Each of us must accept the responsibility to guard the rights of others -- especially those with whom we most deeply disagree)

  • Respect -- Universal (Each of us must commit to debate out differences with respect)


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