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First Amendment Rights in America's Public Schools

First Amendment Rights in America's Public Schools: From the Schoolhouse Gate to the Courthouse Steps

March 7, 2008

The UC Davis Law Review is pleased to announce the 2008 Symposium will focus on First Amendment rights in America's public schools. Since the 1960s, it has been clear that the constitutional rights of students do not end at the schoolhouse gate. What is far less certain is the scope of those rights and the proper role of the federal courts in enforcing them. In 1969, the Supreme Court determined that student speech could only be restricted by school authorities if it materially disrupted the school's educational mission or impinged on the rights of other students.

During the next forty years, lower courts and school authorities have struggled to interpret and apply this standard in a broad range of cases and circumstances. In 1988, the Court concluded that student speech in curricular and school-sponsored activities could be regulated by school authorities as long as the restrictions were reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns. Again, lower courts and school administrators have struggled to apply this standard of review in a coherent and consistent way.

With the Supreme Court's recent decision on students' speech rights inMorse v. Frederick, the Bong Hits 4 Jesus case, these issues are even more timely — and fascinating. For more information, please contact Editor in Chief Megan Knize at

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