Free Speech in Elementary Schools
Controversy over students' Christmas candy
- Duration 4:21
- Date May 23, 2011
Controversy over students' Christmas candy
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Right now in New Orleans a potential landmark case that could impact every child in the country.
Federal appeals court is re hearing a case against two Texas school principals who were accused of violating elementary school students writes the reason.
They confiscated the kids religious themed candy cane pants.
The question is should there be a set age for First Amendment free speech rights.
Joining -- now family law attorney Jennifer Brandt and former prosecutor.
-- the basics of this case and there are actually several of them and as I understand -- are going to be sort of united in this particular argument in the appeals court.
But the basics is that these elementary school children were handing out candy canes at school for instance or pencils that said Jesus is the reason for the season.
That kind of thing on them.
The principals took them away and that hey this is a public school you can't be exhorting religion here -- I have that right.
And the issue here is the constitution like -- that it applies to everybody I've read -- hundreds of times not once have ever seen a disclaimer.
About age -- where you are in line for any thing it applies to everybody right down the line.
So the the argument I guess and -- and government attorneys are trying to enforce this saying that.
Young students Jennifer do not have free speech rights because they are what two younger children.
I don't think that's exactly what they're saying they do have first amendment rights but those rights can be restricted in some respect for the school by the school.
Because for example while children's school children can read their bibles in school or pray in school when -- then.
Hand out those bibles their classmates or try to coerce other people that they should believe what these children are believing then it -- then it's.
School can step in and prohibit -- -- the behavior and I think that's exactly what you have here.
They did not want -- candy -- distributed.
Klaas why because it's actually -- they're proselytizing at that point we'll ten because beyond exercising their own First Amendment freedom.
-- especially in a place like Texas that the -- candy canes in the message John I'm probably wouldn't be too controversial but you can see a situation where.
Young kid might wear a T shirt to school that said something very offensive -- And you made a good point coming from taxes I think some of the arguments made on this case are somewhat disingenuous but that that's for another day.
But you were right on the deal we do have to -- -- -- gonna take the constitution is not restricted as little as possible.
And in this case we've had a standard since 1969.
We need to do limit people's speech -- -- -- materially.
And substantially disrupt the learning environment.
And this was a Christmas portable you -- handout and get you want -- get a handout a -- -- that says hey.
Jesus this is that's the reason for the season if the kid doesn't like it throw it in the trash.
That -- you say that and when I don't have to preach god what.
Well that's -- it is and that's not distracted if you're a child who doesn't believe.
And you -- see that candy cane that may be offensive to you so.
You know this -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- gonna -- in the trash but you know it doesn't matter but I mean this school have a duty to make sure that education is the main message and not.
Religious beliefs and -- there in an environment where other children are trying to preach their religious beliefs are.
-- their religious beliefs on children that may not believe the same thing.
Then the school district does have a duty what about then and then -- that type -- behavior Jennifer what about the free exchange of ideas here though.
This is more than free exchange ideas because you're handing out -- pencil or this candy cane to each tab in the class.
It's not a bad pay what you believe then or what you believe in -- the back here take this into what I believe and I'm putting it on yes that.
Your argument in ten seconds please.
And John what -- what an opportunity for the teacher to use this situation and use it as a learning experience these kids go to public education to get ready for the real world.
They need to learn tolerance and he -- there's differences between kids and they need to learn that.
No matter what you believe everybody's beliefs -- ballot we'll ask what content they don't I had says police -- son and today that we'll let you know S camp and we'll let you know what the Court of Appeals in New Orleans decides Jennifer Brandt had Nelson thank you -- Thank thank you.