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Sarah Callihan
HEA 9220
March 22, 2016

In 1969, Healy et. Al were students at Central Connecticut State College
(CCSC); they sought to create and have recognized a local chapter of the
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) on their campus.
The Student Affairs Committee, after Healy addressed their initial concerns,
approved the petition and recommended their proposal to Dr. James who
was the President of the college.
Their reasoning was that since there were organizations for liberal, right-wing,
Republican and Democrat students that there should be a group that represents
the student population that were left-wing.

Dr. James was not satisfied that the organization would be independent
from the national chapter, which had been one of their concerns, and he
felt the organizations philosophy was antithetical to the campus policies so
he rejected the recommendation.
The reason for the concern was that the National chapter of SDS as well as
other localized chapters had become violent and disruptive.
Especially in issues concerning the draft and the war.

Afterwards the group met on campus to discuss their next step, they were
ordered to disband by Dr. James because since they were not a recognized
organization, they were not entitled to use campus facilities to meet.
So the students filed a lawsuit.


Filed a suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut seeking
injunctive relief against the President of the College, other administration
and the Board of Trustees.
Petitioners stated that by not recognizing the organization, they were being
denied their 1st amendment rights of expression and association.
Judgment: ruled that the petitioners had been denied their procedural due
process and ordered the college to hold a hearing so that the petitioners
could state their case to the President in order to clarify some of the
ambiguities regarding his decision.

One of the matters to be explored was whether the local organization, true to its
repeated affirmations, was in fact independent of the National SDS. And if the
hearing demonstrated that the two were not separable, the respondents were
instructed that they might then review the aims and philosophy of the National

After the hearing, the President reaffirmed his rejection on the basis that the
organization would be disruptive at CCSC and recognizing the organization
would be contrary to the process of change.
It went back to the District Court and was dismissed.

The petitioners appealed to the appellate court, where in a 2-1 decision
affirmed the decision of the district court.
The majority purported not to reach the substantive First Amendment issues
on the theory that petitioners had failed to avail themselves of the due
process accorded them and had failed to meet their burden of complying
with the prevailing standards for recognition.
Healy et. Al. and their attorney then appealed to the Supreme Court.


In a unanimous decision with Justice Rehnquist concurring only with the
results, held that their First Amendment rights had been violated.

The courts erred in discounting the cognizable First Amendment associational

interest that petitioners had in furthering their personal beliefs and that the
burden was on petitioners to show entitlement to recognition by the college
rather than on the college to justify its nonrecognition of the group, once
petitioners had made application confirmably to college requirements.
Since the denial of recognition was based on an assumptive relationship with the
National SDS or because of a fear of disruption, which there was no evidence
supporting this fear, the colleges decision violated the petitioners First
Amendment rights.

Studentswho, by reason of the Twenty-sixth Amendment, become eligible to vote

when 18 years of ageare adults who are members of the college or university
community. Their interests and concerns are often quite different from those of the
faculty. They often have values, views, and ideologies that are at war with the ones
which the college has traditionally espoused or indoctrinated. When they ask for
change, they, the students, speak in the tradition of Jefferson and Madison and the First
The First Amendment does not authorize violence. But it does authorize advocacy, group
activities, and espousal of change.
The present case is minuscule in the events of the 60's and 70's. But the fact that it has to
come here for ultimate resolution indicates the sickness of our academic world,
measured by First Amendment standards. Students as well as faculty are entitled to
credentials in their search for truth. If we are to become an integrated, adult society,
rather than a stubborn status quo opposed to change, students and faculties should
have communal interests in which each age learns from the other. Without ferment of
one kind or another, a college or university (like a federal agency or other human
institution) becomes a useless appendage to a society which traditionally has reflected
the spirit of rebellion.

Healy v. James, 408 US 169-Supreme Court 1972. (1972).

Justia. (1972). Healy v. James.
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). (2016). In Encyclopdia Britannica.
Retrieved from