College and University Speech Codes in the Aftermath of R.A.V v. City of St. Paul.Reportar como inadecuado

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In the case of RAV v. City of St. Paul, a teenager was charged with violating the city's Bias-Motivated Crime Ordinance after being accused of burning a cross inside the fenced yard of a black family. In a 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court struck down the St. Paul ordinance, a decision which raised a question as to whether many college and university speech codes could be found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court's current majority. This paper attempts to resolve the dispute over this issue in the light of the RAV decision. The first section summarizes the types of college and university speech codes that exist in the United States. The second section argues that many speech codes would be found unconstitutional under Justice Scalia's majority opinion. The third section analyzes the concurring opinions of other justices. The majority opinion held that when a regulation on speech fits a categorical exception to the First Amendment, that regulation must be content-neutral. Based on this reasoning, college and university speech codes which only regulate "fighting words" directed at historical victims of discrimination would probably be held unconstitutional as well. However, an analysis of the concurring opinions written by four of the Court's more liberal justices appeared to leave the door open for a ruling that a speech code, if limited to racist and sexist fighting words, would be constitutional. (The St. Paul ordinance prohibited the display of symbols--such as burning crosses--calculated to arouse anger, alarm, etc., in traditional hate crime targets). If a member of the majority left the Court and was replaced by a jurist whose philosophy was more consistent with the RAV concurring justices, any speech code case reaching the Court would have a greater chance of survival. (Sixty-eight footnotes are included.) (RS)

Descriptors: Constitutional Law, Court Litigation, Freedom of Speech, Higher Education, Racial Bias, Sex Bias, Student Rights

Autor: Fraleigh, Douglas


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