Landmark Cases

Timeline of Landmark Supreme Court Cases and Legislation Involving Student Rights

1943: West Virginia v. Barnette protects students’ rights to choose not to salute the flag in school.

1948: McCollum v. Board of Education outlaws any sort of required religious practices in public schools.

1962: Engle v. Vitale outlaws prayer in schools.

1969: Tinker v. DesMoines, one of the most important students’ rights cases, establishes the “Tinker Test,” which says that students may express themselves freely unless it causes a disturbance to the school environment.

1972: Wisconsin v. Yoder allows Amish students to discontinue schooling after grade eight due to their religion.

1975: Goss v. Lopez establishes that due process, which requires substantial evidence to be procured before a conviction is made, applies to students in school.

1984: Equal Access Act provides equal access to extracurricular clubs, including those religious in nature.

1985: New Jersey v. TLO allows searches of students in school because students have less protection of privacy in school.

1986: Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser states that vulgar, lewd, and offensive speech in school is not protected under “free speech.”

1988: Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier establishes that because school newspapers represent the school, administrators may edit them. This opens the door for more regulation of student rights at school-sponsored events.

1998: Beussink v. Woodland R-IV School District protected the right to free speech of a student who posted critical comments of teachers online.

2000: The Children’s Internet Protection Act bans students’ access to harmful websites.

2000: Emmett v. Kent School District again allows students to post comments online if they are not created for a school project.

2007: Layshock v. Hermitage School District allows Eric Layshock to create a fake MySpace page for his principal off-campus as long as there was no slander.

2007: Requa v. Kent School District again allows a student to post online comments while off campus. The student used YouTube to post critical commentary on his teachers.

2007: Morse v. Frederick, the well-known “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case, dictates that school officials can censor or punish student speech seen as advocating illegal drug use while at a school-sponsored event, even if the event is off school grounds.

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