Tinker v. Des Moines
Vote: 7-2 in favor of students
Majority Points:
  • Unsubstantiated anticipation that an expression of opinion may cause disruption is not enough to prohibit the expression in advance
  • Students are allowed to express opinions if they do not "materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school"
  • Constitutional rights are not shed at the schoolhouse gate

Dissenting Points:
  • The Supreme Court should not second guess school leaders
  • The arm bands were disruptive - they diverted students' thoughts from schoolwork to the Vietnam War
  • School officials should be given the widest possible authority in maintaining discipline and order
  • This precedent will lead to flagrant student disobedience


Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier
Vote: 6-3 in favor of school over students
Majority Points:
  • Student rights are not automatically equal to adult rights
  • Schools are allowed to control content of school-sponsored speech
  • Student newspapers are not automatically a "forum for public expression," thus limiting their First Amendment protection
  • Schools would be liable for any false statements in school-sponsored speech

Dissenting Points:
  • The decision allows school officials to censor anything that personally offends them
  • Schoool-sponsored speech is not less worthy of protection


Wallace v. Jefree
Vote: 6-3 in favor of student/parents over school
Majority Points:
  • The practice under question were not secular in intent because school prayer was endorsed and promoted. The established principle is that the government must "pursue a course of complete neutrality toward religion." An initial statute, in 1978, authorized a "moment of silence." A 1981 amendment provided a similar period for "meditation or voluntary prayer." The law changed in 1982 to allow teachers to lead willing students in specified prayers. This progressive movement showed nonsecular school intent and indicated that "the state intends to characterize prayer as a favored practice"
  • The in-class prayer violated the establishment clause, which prevents government from establishing any official church

Dissenting Points:
  • This is an example of benevolent neutrality, as defined by former cheif justice Warren Burger's statement, "We will not tolerate either governmentallly established religion or governmental influence with religion. Short of those expressly proscribed governmental acts, there is room for play in the joints productive of a benevolent neutrality which will permit religious exercise to exist without sponsorship and without interference."
  • One justice dissented entirely on the validity of the "wall of seperation" (between church and state) interpretation of the Constitution


New Jersey v. T.L.O.
Vote 6-3 in favor of school over student
Majority Points:
  • Striking the balance between schoolchildren's legitimate expectations of privacy and the school's equally legitimate need to maintain an environment in which learning can take place requires some easing of the restrictions to which searches by public authorities are ordinarily subject
  • Fourth amendment protections exist for students in public schools. However, the warrent and probable cause requirement was found to be too restrictive to apply in the educational arena. Instead, the Court established a more flexible standard for search and siezures of students in public schools. The warrent requirement was eliminated and the probable cause requirement was replaced by a lesser standard of of reasonalbe suspicion. Thus, school officials need only establish that a search is based on a reasonable suspicion of misconduct

Dissenting Points:
  • The contents of T.L.O.'s purse had no bearing on the accusation made against her regarding smoking cigarettes. Mere possession of cigerettes was not even a violation of school rules; therefore, the search of her purse was unreasonable.