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August 12, 2012

Essay Paper

Understanding the Federal Court

Being the highest court and a symbol of judicial independence The Supreme court of United States has handled infinite number of cases but in dealing with cases related to societal issues special care is taken as cases of such nature are directly related to the welfare and benefit of common layman who looks towards the judicial system in the wake of acquiring justice for himself and for his generations. Two cases that are of special importance in revolutionizing the visage of American society that will be assessed during the course of this discussion will be Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier and Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District.  Another worth mentioning key fact about both selected cases is that they are squarely related to the curriculums and educational activities in public schools of the country.  

Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier
            This case that was presented in the US Supreme Court in the year 1988 argued that public school curriculum newspapers, since they have not been established as proper forums for discussion they must be subjected to a lower level of First Amendment rather than providing complete independence and liberty youth forums.  (Utterback, 2003)
The case if of key importance as the Supreme Court through this case declared for the first time that public schools must impose some restrictions on the content that it students are published in school magazines. The high school paper Spectrum was published as part of the journalism class in Hazelwood School District. The paper upon completion was send to the principal of the school Robert Reynolds who removed content that was based upon teenage pregnancy and divorce issues.
Under the totality of circumstances the court announced that the school magazine could not be considered to be a proper public forum and hence the editors of the school funded magazine could only be entitled to the lower level of protection that the First Amendment provides to people, hence the verdict of the court was announced in favor of Hazelwood School District. (Butler and Louis, N/A)
  Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District
            This case of 1969 was a decision of the Supreme Court that laid the foundation of the constitutional rights of students enrolled in different public schools of the country. With the help of this case US educational institutes were able to devise the Tinker Test which is still used by judiciary in order to test whether a school is or is not violating the disciplinary action of the First Amendment. The background of the case can be dated back to 1965 when John F. Tinker, his younger sister Mary Beth Tinker and his friend Christopher Eckhardt decided to wear black armbands symbolizing their protest for the Vietnam War. The principals of the Des Moines schools decided the policy that any student wearing such bands will be suspended from school. All three of them decided to violate this rule and were thus expelled. It was until the Iowa Civil Liberties Union approached their family after which they filed a lawsuit in the US district court against the school administration. The court in its verdict declared that the school administration must have constitutionally valid reasons for banning the wearing of armbands. Secondly, the wearing of such bands can only be termed as disturbing if it has disrupted academic activities in the school. However none of the allegations of the administration were found true and hence the protest exercise initiated by Tinkers was declared as a constitutionally protected form of symbolic freedom of speech. (Farish, 1998)
            Both cases are also of prime importance as they are directly related in paving grounds for the youth of the country to realize their social as well as constitutional rights in different cases. The Hazelwood case demarcates the boundaries where it becomes difficult to distinguish ethics from immorality along with the realization of the fact that freedom of expression and speech are always accompanied with increasing responsibilities. The Des Moines case highlights the constitutional rights of youngsters by providing them a leverage to devise new ways through which they can record their protest even against government actions, hence through the help of both cases the youth of the country has been able to understand their constitutional and social rights in a much better way.


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