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Authors

Brianna Hastry

Abstract

The landmark 1969 Supreme Court case, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, stated that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and expression at the schoolhouse gate,” so long as the speech does not “materially or substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school.”36 However, unlike many precedents set in landmark cases, this ruling has been unclear and contested in ensuing decades. Minors’ free speech rights must be understood in the context of a long, complex, and at times contradictory history of conflicting interpretations, such that, even now, more legal challenges are required to produce a clear set of rules. Through an analysis of a variety of contradicting court cases regarding free speech in schools, the rights of minors more broadly, and “right to know” issues in students’ education, the highly contested nature of minors’ free speech rights, historically and contemporarily, becomes apparent.

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