Assignment Overview Unit 5
Facts of the Case
A college athlete was dismissed from his state’s public University, and his scholarship revoked for infringing the universities’ Code of conduct, which requires team players to salute the flag during opening ceremonies. The athlete is suing the University based on the violation of his right to freedom as guaranteed in the First Amendment of the United States constitution. Although the University’s Code of conduct is structured to promote a specific message during opening ceremonies, revocation of scholarship and dismissal from school for failing to adhere to the Code in this particular scenario is a violation of the student’s right of free speech, as established in the First Amendment and based on precedent cases.
Based on provisions of the First Amendment of the United States constitution, the University’s actions against the college student are a violation of the latter’s right to free speech. Notably, the First Amendment protects the right to freedom of expression from government interference. The Amendment also prohibits any law that abridges the freedom of speech (“First Amendment,” n.d.). From this case scenario, it is evident that the Code of Conduct abridges the freedom of expression by imposing stringent actions against those who fail to salute the flag during opening ceremonies, regardless of the message they wish to send for doing so.
As a judge, I would rule on the athlete’s case by critically evaluating his actions against the provisions of the First Amendment and through the doctrine of stare decisis. Notably, I would refer to past incidents such as the Texas v, Johnson case, which had similar issues, and the ruling by the supreme court to structure my official decision. Besides, I would analyze whether the student’s actions were expressive conduct protected under the First Amendment. In this scenario, his behavior was political, protest against the current president and ongoing war in Afghanistan, and expressed in a traditional public forum; thus, the speaker has the strongest First Amendment protection.
Based on an analysis of the provisions of the First Amendment, I tend to agree with the majority opinion in the Texas v. Johnson case. Notably, the First Amendment prohibits any law that abridges the freedom of speech (“First Amendment,” n.d.). Furthermore, the Amendment acknowledges that speech can be exercised in direct words or a symbolic way. Therefore, Johnson’s action of burning an American flag as a protest against the Reagan administration policies was an expression of his speech, which is protected under the First Amendment.
“First Amendment” (n.d.). Legal Information Institute. Retrieved from https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/first_amendment
“Texas v. Johnson” (n.d.). Oyez. Retrieved from https://www.oyez.org/cases/1988/88-155