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A Note From Our Friends at ConSource To The Winners of the ConSource Badge

Dear ConSource Badge Winners,

Thank you for participating in the FantasySCOTUS program and congratulations on earning the ConSource badge. The blog posts you submitted display a great amount of effort and creativity.  It is clear that you put active thought into the meaning of the First Amendment as it pertains to student speech both inside and outside of school.  What was particularly impressive was your use of examples from your own school policies, as well as facts drawn from J.S. v. Blue Mountain School District and Layshock v. Hermitage School District.

As students, you should always strive to improve your writing. One way to construct a more compelling legal argument is to cite additional source materials outside of the case law itself. For example, a number of you reference the idea that citizens of the United States should have the freedom to voice their own opinions, no matter the content. To explore the extent to which this broad statement is true, you may want to look to the history of the First Amendment. Start with a direction citation to the First Amendment’s broad and absolute terms.

From there, you can seek out the meaning of those words by looking at the ideas the Framers discussed and debated before they settled on the language “Congress shall makes no law […] abridging the freedom of speech.” For instance, the Framers often referred collectively to “the rights of Conscience,” which were closely intertwined with both the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech. Take a look at the Senate’s debates on the Bill of Rights amendments, in letters exchanged between the Amendment’s Framers, and in the state ratification records to determine if the freedom of conscience is broader or different than the freedom of speech. Consider why the Framers might have decided not to use the language “freedom of conscious.” Would swapping the word “speech” for “conscience” impact the rights of students to express themselves inside and outside of school?

With these questions in mind, and the tools available to answer them on the ConSource website and elsewhere, you will be able to further develop your already excellent legal arguments. If you would like to continue working on your legal analysis of student speech, please feel free to email me at Julie.Silverbrook@consource.org. I am always delighted to work with students to help you develop your legal and historical reading and writing skills.

Keep up the good work!

Julie Silverbrook

Executive Director

The Constitutional Sources Project


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