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Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser

    Brief Fact Summary. The Respondent, Fraser (Respondent), a student at Bethel High School, made a speech in front of an assembly that was considered to be lewd. In reaction to the speech, he was suspended from school. The Respondent brought suit to enjoin the punishment, stating that his speech was given within his First Amendment constitutional rights.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. While students are afforded the First Amendment freedoms of speech and expression, they are still answerable for their actions when they are offensive to others.

    Facts. The Respondent a student at Bethel High School, made a speech in front of an assembly that was considered to be lewd. In reaction to the speech, he was suspended from school. The Respondent brought suit to enjoin the punishment, stating that his speech was given within his First Amendment constitutional rights. The District Court and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals held that the Respondent’s right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution) had been abridged by the school district. The school district appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court), who granted certiorari.

    Issue. This case considers whether the First Amendment rights of students are completely unfettered when they are at school or when their conduct may be offensive to their classmates and school officials.

    Held. Chief Justice Burger (J. Burger). Reversed.
    For the majority, J. Burger opined that the “undoubted freedom to advocate unpopular and controversial views in schools and classrooms must be balanced against


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