Case A Decision TemplateYou have chosen to complete the Case A Decision Template

Note—You only have and submit either Case A or Case B for grading.

Your Name: ______________________________ 

As you read this case, imagine you are a Supreme Court justice analyzing the case. By the end of the reading you should be able to determine the following things:

  • What type of expression found in the First Amendment relates to the case?
  • What is this case really about? Why does each side believe they are right?
  • How this case is similar to the Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier case?

Case A

The drama class at a middle school was preparing for their spring play in the school auditorium. One week before the performance, a parent complained to the school board that the play was inappropriate for middle school students. The school board agreed and contacted the principal, who then informed the classes that the show was canceled. Students were upset that their preparations were a waste. They believe they have the right to freedom of expression in performing the play. The school board said that students are minors and that it must approve decisions about what is presented in school by teachers or students. The students did not have time to plan a different show. A group of the students' parents brought the case to court on their behalf, but they lost the case in state district court. The students' parents appealed the district court's decision to their state court of appeals. There the students and their parents won the case, but the school board appealed the decision to their state-level supreme court. The state supreme court ruled in favor of the school board. Unhappy with the state supreme court's decision, the students' parents are now appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Step 1: Answer the following questions in complete sentences.

  • What is this case about?

  • How is this case similar to the Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier case?

  • Which type of expression listed in the First Amendment relates to this case?

Step 2: Make your Decision

Now it's time to pretend you are a judge! Explain, like a judge, your thoughts on the case and why you feel this way. For each question you should explain your answer in at least two to three complete sentences.

  • Why did the school board believe they had the right to cancel the play?

  • Why did the students believe they had the right to perform the play?

  • Should the students be allowed to perform their school play? Why or why not? Give three reasons to support your decision. At least one of your reasons should be based on what you learned about the Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier case.

  • Reason #1:

  • Reason #2:

  • Reason #3:

  • Do you think the school should be allowed to censor the material of a school play or school newspaper? Why or why not? Be sure to use what you know about the First Amendment to support your answer.

Step 3: Share and Improve

Share your work with a trusted adult. Does he or she think you supported your case decision with enough detail? Does he or she have any other insight about the case you may not have considered? You can improve your work by making changes or additions.

  • Who did you share your work with, and what comments did he or she give you?

  • Did you make changes to improve your work? Briefly list the changes, such as "added detail about First Amendment" or "fixed spelling errors."

Answer & Explanation

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