Student Speech: The Court's Key Rulings
West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette (1943): State laws that compel public-school students to salute the flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance "invade the sphere of intellect and spirit" that the First Amendment "reserve[s] from all official control."
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969): School officials' decision to punish students who wore black armbands to school to protest the Vietnam War violated the students' First Amendment free-speech rights. "[T]he prohibition of one particular opinion, at least without evidence that it is necessary to avoid material and substantial interference with schoolwork or discipline, is not constitu4tionally permissible."
Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District v. Pico (1982): In a plurality opinion, four Justices held that the First Amendment imposes limitations on a school board's exercise of its discretion to remove books from school libraries. Officials may not remove books from libraries "simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books."
Bethel School District v. Fraser (1986): The First Amendment does not prohibit school officials from disciplining students for lewd or indecent speech. "The determination of what manner of speech in the classroom or in school assembly is inappropriate properly rests with the school board."