Student rights are in jeopardy

By admin

On May 29, 2008, Avery Doninger of Lewis Mills High School filed an injunction to stop school administrators from removing her from running for senior class secretary because she wrote that the school superintendent was a “douche bag” on a live journal blog. Judge Sonia Sotomayor joined in a ruling to deny this injunction. The judges said her words had the potential of being disruptive and were “plainly offensive.” This is not the only ruling made by Sotomayor that goes against the First Amendment. She was also one of a trio of appeals judges who rejected a First Amendment claim by a Burlington student last year. The student was penalized by school administrators for the use of foul language in a blog she was running from home.
School administrators have been allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court to punish student behavior if it “materially and substantially disrupt the work and discipline of the school” under the 1969 Tinker Decision. However the Supreme Court still holds that administrators cannot hold students responsible for their behavior outside of school. Judge Sotomayor’s rulings were not in accordance with these past Supreme Court decisions, in either case, agreeing with punishment for student behavior outside of school instead. Now that Sotomayor has been accepted to the Supreme Court, students must sadly begin watching what they say and write not only inside but also outside of school.
This situation will escalate until student rights no longer exist. The need to stop these events as soon as possible could not be anymore apparent. It is ironic that we learn about the freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights while those same rights are taken due to the fact that we are students. The disregard for these freedoms simply on the basis of age is teaching the next generation that the government is not truly held to the ideals it was formed under. Instead the government is arguing the freedoms given under the U.S. Constitution to keep control of youths. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Are students not worthy of the rights they are guaranteed by our nation? Do these rights only apply after we have reached a certain age? No, these “unalienable rights” are ours no matter what our age. “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The U.S. government governs us as U.S. citizens no matter what our age, thus, the power of our government comes from the entire community, regardless of age.
Based on the ideals of our nation our government is required to secure our rights. Instead they have restricted these rights and gone against the ideals this nation was formed upon. By limiting the First Amendment rights of students we simply teach them that the Constitution doesn’t matter. This kind of disregard for basic human rights at the highest level will lead to an out of control government. This is what happened in Britain in the late 1700’s, it lead to the American Revolution. It all starts with the lack of attention being paid to student rights. Sotomayor is a contributor to this problem, as she has supported the restriction of student rights in the past. As the rights of those who aren’t involved in the government are trampled, we must look to the past, and learn from it.