Abstract and Keywords
Free speech is the cornerstone of our democracy, and it is also a right that students exercise in public schools. Students’ rights have not always been as robust they are today, though. In fact, over the past century, the way in which we conceptualize students’ rights has changed dramatically. This chapter traces the development of the law in this area, analyzing the handful of U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have established the special rules for deciding school speech cases and engaging the principles that have animated these decisions. The chapter also presents one way of understanding how these cases fit together, underscores questions about the current coherence of the doctrine, and engages the related—and increasingly important—issue of qualified immunity. Student speech cases are among the most commonly litigated issues under the First Amendment, and for many reasons, controversies about free speech present difficult questions.
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