Lessons in Censorship: How Schools and Courts Subvert Students' First Amendment Rights

Lessons in Censorship: How Schools and Courts Subvert Students' First Amendment Rights

by Catherine J. Ross

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American public schools often censor controversial student speech that the Constitution protects. Lessons in Censorship brings clarity to a bewildering array of court rulings that define the speech rights of young citizens in the school setting. Catherine J. Ross examines disputes that have erupted in our schools and courts over the civil rights movement, war and peace, rights for LGBTs, abortion, immigration, evangelical proselytizing, and the Confederate flag. She argues that the failure of schools to respect civil liberties betrays their educational mission and threatens democracy.

From the 1940s through the Warren years, the Supreme Court celebrated free expression and emphasized the role of schools in cultivating liberty. But the Burger, Rehnquist, and Roberts courts retreated from that vision, curtailing certain categories of student speech in the name of order and authority. Drawing on hundreds of lower court decisions, Ross shows how some judges either misunderstand the law or decline to rein in censorship that is clearly unconstitutional, and she powerfully demonstrates the continuing vitality of the Supreme Court’s initial affirmation of students’ expressive rights. Placing these battles in their social and historical context, Ross introduces us to the young protesters, journalists, and artists at the center of these stories.

Lessons in Censorship highlights the troubling and growing tendency of schools to clamp down on off-campus speech such as texting and sexting and reveals how well-intentioned measures to counter verbal bullying and hate speech may impinge on free speech. Throughout, Ross proposes ways to protect free expression without disrupting education.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674057746
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 10/19/2015
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Catherine J. Ross is Fred C. Stevenson Research Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Strangling the Free Mind 1

Part I The Emergence of Free Speech Doctrine

1 Think as You Will and Speak as You Think 13

2 A Taxonomy of School Censorship Takes Form 36

Part II Pushing Porous Boundaries

3 Dissing and Discipline: Sam-Gene Speech 65

4 School-Sponsored Speech: Hazelwootfs "Imprimatur" Conundrum 96

Part III Tinker Redux

5 Unsettled Waters: Attacks on Pure Student Speech 129

6 Words that Harm: The Rights of Others 160

7 Off-Campus Taunts and Online Sans-Gene Speech 207

8 Tinker Rising Like the Phoenix: Evangelicals and LGBTs Allied 245

Conclusion: Living Liberty 287

Appendix: The Federal Judicial Circuits 301

Notes 303

Acknowledgments 347

Index 349

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