College Student Wins Right to Talk about Jesus and the Bible in Graduation Speech

Djinn

Council Hall
Dec 2007
50,903
37,378
Pennsylvania, USA
Irrelevant.

One need not be physically absent to not listen to something. Or, one can take his assigned seat, leave during the 'offending' parts of the ceremony and come back when it's over. If the graduation ceremony is that important to you, then reason dictates that listening to something you have absolutely no control over is an infinitesimally small price to pay. Arguing what one should or shouldn't hear is whining.
I'm unfamiliar with any school permitting students to come and leave at their discretion once the graduation ceremony has commenced. Once it commences, it's considered a captive audience. If you leave, you are penalized; you forfeit your opportunity to stand up and receive your diploma. And as I recall, handing out diplomas is the primary purpose of the graduation ceremony. As you acknowledged, there are limits to free speech. Some of the contours of those limits can be traced in government agencies - including public school systems. You'll also find this in the famous Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier Supreme Court ruling, which ruled school officials' exercising editorial control over curricular student publications is NOT a violation of the First Amendment.

Functionally, there's no difference between an article in a school newspaper, and a graduation commencement speech:

Both the newspaper articles and commencement speeches are written by students.
The newspaper is a sanctioned school publication, while the graduation ceremony is a sanctioned school event.
 
Jan 2007
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No, it was a mistake because the staff member believed herself to be enforcing a school policy, when in fact it was not school policy.
A mistake that is hostile to a student's religious beliefs. Persecution.

No, your position assumes facts not in evidence.
You do not think it is a fact that the university might be held liable for curtailing a constitutional protection?

No, I am not. You are making that up while you whine about not being able to use government to push your religious ideology.
You said:

In fact, if the school's intent is that the student share his/her "wisdom" (such as it may be) with the other graduates, and that this includes religion and the opportunity to proselytize, then the school is endorsing whatever the student says about religion, which is impermissible.
Only in your narrow intolerant mind could a graduation speech be construed as a school endorsement -- hence whining.

And yet see the cases Djinn posted indicating schools do have the power to limit the content of speeches.
Only because they were not challenged. Those limits do not pertain to religious personal experiences -- regardless of where it is expressed.

No, the student claims to owe her academic success to her religion, and wants to use that claim as a reason to use her graduation speech to push her religion.
You're position assumes a fact not in evidence.

She is merely expressing an opinion based on her personal experience. There is nothing to indicate that she is using her speech to push her religion --- whatever the hell that means.

In fact, that she graduated as valedictorian is utterly irrelevant to her religion, and vice versa, when it comes to the credibility of her religious claim.
Are you claiming that you know more about her personal experience better than herself -- as far as her achievement is concerned? Are you omniscient?

duh?

You stated that it would be logical, with regard to religion, to listen to the person who had higher grades, than the person with lower grades, notwithstanding that one's grades are utterly irrelevant to the validity (or invalidity) of one's religious beliefs.
I said:

If the smartest person in the room says he owes his academic success to god and a dumb person says he's full of shit -- are you inclined to believe the dumb person?

The logic of course is that you are in no position to criticize what her personal experience means to her -- especially if she is objectively smarter than you.

What you thought my post meant is you whining about it.
 
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Djinn already made the argument. Snyder was not on-point as it did not pertain to graduation speeches in public schools. Lassonde v. Pleasanton Unified School District and Corder v. Lewis Palmer School District did so pertain, and the courts' decisions upheld the school's policies.
You are claiming that speech delivered in a 'government platform' is a government endorsement of that speech. Snyder explicitly states that the how and where of speech cannot overcome freedom of speech. How the hell is that not on-point, hmmmm? Is there something about this particular graduation speech that makes it impermissible compared to a public protest?
 
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I'm unfamiliar with any school permitting students to come and leave at their discretion once the graduation ceremony has commenced.
Frankly, I cannot imagine that a student can't.

Once it commences, it's considered a captive audience.
Really? You cannot simply not listen? And your inability to simply not listen justifies you telling another person what he can or cannot say?

If you leave, you are penalized; you forfeit your opportunity to stand up and receive your diploma. And as I recall, handing out diplomas is the primary purpose of the graduation ceremony.
What they handed out to me was a copy of my diploma. The actual diploma was given days after. I even contemplated on skipping the ceremony altogether because I was already employed prior to it. I attended because my parents wanted to see me in a toga.

As you acknowledged, there are limits to free speech. Some of the contours of those limits can be traced in government agencies - including public school systems. You'll also find this in the famous Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier Supreme Court ruling, which ruled school officials' exercising editorial control over curricular student publications is NOT a violation of the First Amendment.

Functionally, there's no difference between an article in a school newspaper, and a graduation commencement speech:

Both the newspaper articles and commencement speeches are written by students.

The newspaper is a sanctioned school publication, while the graduation ceremony is a sanctioned school event.
You are confusing different concepts.

Which types of speech are not protected by the First Amendment? | Freedom Forum Institute

Although different scholars view unprotected speech in different ways, there are basically nine categories:
  • Obscenity
  • Fighting words
  • Defamation (including libel and slander)
  • Child pornography
  • Perjury
  • Blackmail
  • Incitement to imminent lawless action
  • True threats
  • Solicitations to commit crimes
Some experts also would add treason, if committed verbally, to that list. Plagiarism of copyrighted material is also not protected.

Religion, per se is not a limitation of free speech. Only when religion is construed as government policy does it become impermissible.
 

Djinn

Council Hall
Dec 2007
50,903
37,378
Pennsylvania, USA
... What they handed out to me was a copy of my diploma. The actual diploma was given days after. I even contemplated on skipping the ceremony altogether because I was already employed prior to it. I attended because my parents wanted to see me in a toga.
...
Religion, per se is not a limitation of free speech. Only when religion is construed as government policy does it become impermissible.
Using a government-sponsored venue to proselytize to a captive audience is impermissible. If a student wants to stand in the hallways and recite scripture in between classes, that's fine. If a student organizes a voluntary after-school religious group, that's fine as well. But proselytizing one's chosen religion to a captive audience at an unrelated school event is at the discretion of the school. This is no different than holding a school musical - and surprising the audience by preceding it with a religious sermon.

The Supreme Court has already spoken on this matter, and I provided links. In government-run institutions, "freedoms of speech" are NOT the same as they are in other venues.
 
Jan 2007
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I can't imagine that a student wishing to avoid being proselytised at could reasonably be expected to anticipate the objectionable section(s) of the speech in time to avoid unnecessary exposure.
Then leave for the entirety of the graduation speech. In a society that protects an individuals freedom of speech, that is the minimum level of tolerance required.
 
Jan 2007
7,548
480
Irrelevant
Using a government-sponsored venue to proselytize to a captive audience is impermissible. If a student wants to stand in the hallways and recite scripture in between classes, that's fine. If a student organizes a voluntary after-school religious group, that's fine as well. But proselytizing one's chosen religion to a captive audience at an unrelated school event is at the discretion of the school. This is no different than holding a school musical - and surprising the audience by preceding it with a religious sermon.

The Supreme Court has already spoken on this matter, and I provided links. In government-run institutions, "freedoms of speech" are NOT the same as they are in other venues.
Clearly, you are misinformed.

Religious student organizations are accredited in state universities and public schools. They hold religious activities on school grounds. They publish newsletters paid for by the school. All these is permissible as long as such facilities and monies are made available to other student organizations. That is what freedom of religion means.

And as your scotus explicitly stated in the majority opinion -- the how and where of speech cannot be overcome by what a jury may find outrageous. This is more than being a captive audience since the snyders were already arguing for their right to privacy.