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Pickering v. Board of Education

summary of court case
by

Crystal Thomas-Hoof

on 28 November 2012

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Transcript of Pickering v. Board of Education

Pickering v. Board of Education (1968) Freedom of Expression Summary The Board of Education released Marvin L. Pickering for writing and publishing a letter in a newspaper. The letter expressed his concerns and opinions about the Board's mismanagement of school funds between educational and athletic programs. He was also not in accord with the way the Board and the superintendent obscured information about the true motive of tax increases from the school district’s taxpayers. During a hearing about his discharge, the Board proclaimed that the letter contained false statements and that such statements impacted the reputation of its members as well as the school administration. However, there was no proof of the effect that his letter had on the community or the school administration. Grounds
Won Dissatisfied with the Board’s decision to terminate him, Pickering went to the Circuit Court of Will County to have the Board’s judgment reviewed. The Circuit Court, however, agreed with the Board’s decision based upon the notion that the letter was damaging to the welfare of the school. He then appealed his case before the Supreme Court of Illinois where they upheld the verdict of the Circuit Court. In 1968, Pickering pursued a review of his case in the United States Supreme Court. In an eight to one decision, the ruling of the Illinois Supreme Court was reversed. The United Sates Supreme Court decided that the statements made in Pickering’s
letters were within the realm of the First Amendment as well as any false statements
that were unknowingly made. The Court ruled that the State may not terminate
Pickering for making such declarations. Implication for
Education The First Amendment of the United States Constitution gives the right to freedom of expression. Included in freedom of expression is the element of freedom of speech; it gives individuals the right to articulate their ideas and opinions. It is vital for educators to be aware that the protection of the First Amendment right of the Constitution is not unlimited. Dismissal may be justifiable if the statements of an employee are detrimental to the operation of the school. Argued March 27, 1968

Decided June 3, 1968

391 U.S. 563
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