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NOTE PUNISHMENTANDSTUDENTSPEECH: STRAININGTHEREACHOFTHEFIRSTAMENDMENT

INTRODUCTION OnApril24,2007,AveryDoningerreferredtoofficialsather highschoolasdouchebagsonherprivateblog.1Findinglittle humor in the reference, the school officials responded by bar ringDoningersrunforapositiononthestudentcouncil.2Don inger challenged the schools decision, alleging that the First Amendmentprotectedherspeechandlimitedtheextentofher punishment.3 The U.S. District Court for the District of Con necticut rejected bothclaimsafter finding thattheschoolcould suppressheruncivilandoffensivespeech4andthatthescope of...punishment lay within [the schools] discretion.5 In a panelopinionjoinedbythenJudgeSotomayor,theSecondCir cuitupheldthelowercourtsrulingthatthespeechwasunpro tected but declined to address the scope of the school officials discretion to punish Doninger.6 Instead, the court noted that, giventhepostureofthiscase,wehavenooccasiontoconsider whetheradifferent,moreseriousconsequencethandisqualifica tionfromstudentofficewouldraiseconstitutionalconcerns.7 The constitutional concerns referenced in the Second Cir cuitsopinionpresentnovelquestionsabouttheFirstAmend ments application to student speech. Although the Supreme Courthasemphasizedconsistentlythatschoolofficialsdeserve

1.Doningerv.Niehoff,514F.Supp.2d199,206(D.Conn.2007). 2.Id.at20708. 3.Id.at211. 4.Id.at216. 5.Id.at215. 6.Doningerv.Niehoff,527F.3d41,4950,53(2dCir.2008). 7.Id.at53(citingWisniewskiv.Bd.ofEd.oftheWeedsportCent.Sch.Dist.,494 F.3d34,40(2dCir.2007)).

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deferenceinregulating studentspeech,8theCourthasnotde cided whether deference extends to a schools choice of pun ishment.SupremeCourtcasesevaluatingstudentspeechunder theFirstAmendmenthaverisenandfallenonthesuppression issue;thatis,theCourthasendeditsinquiryafterdetermining whetherthespeechwasprotectedornot.9RecentCourtofAp pealsdecisions,includingDoninger,havegonebeyondtheSu preme Courts precedent and created uncertainty about whethercourtscanusetheFirstAmendmenttolimittheextent to which schools punish students for their unprotected speech.10Thesecasesnotonlysignalanunprecedentedlevelof judicialscrutiny,butalsoinviteareexaminationofthedegree ofdeferencecourtsoweschoolofficials. Punishment implicates First Amendment values when it in duces selfcensorship.11 Unwanted deterrence of valid speech grows when the scope of First Amendment protection is un clear,asisoftenthecaseinschoolsettingswherethemarginof protected speech is particularly blurred.12 Although the Su premeCourthasnotexaminedtheissueofpunishmentinthe
8.See,e.g.,Morsev.Frederick,551U.S.393,39697(2007)(quotingBethelSch. Dist.No.403v.Fraser,478U.S.675,682(1986))(rulingthatotherwiseprotected speechreceivedabridgedprotectionsinaschoolsetting);HazelwoodSch.Dist.v. Kuhlmeier,484U.S.260,270(1988)(upholdingprincipalsdecisiontodeletestu dent articles from school newspaper because school officials were entitled to regulatethecontentsof[theschoolnewspaper]inanyreasonablemanner). 9.See, e.g., Morse, 551 U.S. at 397 (concluding First Amendment analysis after determining that school could suppress student speech); Hazelwood, 484 U.S. at 27374(same);Fraser,478U.S.at685(same). 10.Doninger, 527 F.3d at 53; Wisniewski, 494 F.3d at 35 (reviewing disciplinary action against student for allegedly threatening speech); LaVine v. Blaine Sch. Dist., 257 F.3d 981, 992 (9th Cir. 2001) (invalidating school discipline of student speechwithoutspecifyinglevelofscrutiny). 11.Dissenting in Alexander v. United States, Justice Kennedy commented that [t]here can be little doubt that regulation and punishment of certain classes of unprotected speech have implications for other speech that is close to the pro scribedline,speechwhichisentitledtoprotectionsoftheFirstAmendment.509 U.S.544,565(1993)(Kennedy,J.,dissenting). 12.See Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Cmty. Sch. Dist., 393 U.S. 503, 506 (1969) (noting the special characteristics of the school environment in the context of FirstAmendmentrights);ClayCalvert,TinkersMidlifeCrisis:TatteredandTrans gressed but Still Standing, 58 AM. U. L. REV. 1167, 117273 (2009) (describing the apparent incongruity in Supreme Court precedent detailing scope of student speechrights);JacobTabor,Note,StudentsFirstAmendmentRightsintheAgeofthe Internet:OffCampusCyberspeechandSchoolRegulation,50B.C.L.REV.561,56263 (2009)(explaininghowthegrowthoftheInternethasexacerbatedproblemswith theSupremeCourtsambiguousschoolspeechprecedent).

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contextofstudentspeech,ithasengagedinanalogousinquir ies in two other areas of First Amendment jurisprudence: defamationandobscenity.Indefamationactions,theCourthas heldthattheFirstAmendmentbarstheimpositionofpunitive damagesinsomecircumstancesbecauseanawardofpunitive damages may cause media selfcensorship.13 In obscenity ac tions, however, the Court has declined to use the First Amendmenttolimitliability.14Itremainstobeseenwherethe Courtwillplacestudentspeechbetweenthedivergent,yetnot necessarily conflicting, strands of defamation and obscenity cases.ThisNotearguesthatcourtsshouldfollowtheSupreme Courts reasoning in obscenity cases by refusing to scrutinize theextentofschoolpunishmentofunprotectedspeech. Part I examines the two lines of casesdefamation and ob scenityin which courts have assessed whether the First Amendment limits the magnitude of punishment of unpro tectedspeech.ThisPartthenhighlightsrecentlowercourtde cisions that note the constitutional concerns associated with punishmentofstudentspeech.PartIIconsiderswhethercourts shouldadoptintermediatescrutinyoraformofrationalbasis review in examining school disciplinary measures under the First Amendment. Finally, Part III argues that courts should notconstruetheFirstAmendmenttolimittheextenttowhicha schoolmaypunishunprotectedstudentspeech. I. THEFIRSTAMENDMENTFRAMEWORKFORPUNISHMENT A. Defamation

The Supreme Court has used the First Amendment to limit punishment of unprotected speech in defamation actions. Defamation precedent for much of the last two centuries per mitted awards of punitive damages.15 In the 1971 decision
13.SeeinfraPartI.A. 14.SeeinfraPartI.B. 15.D.B.Petrie,Note,PunitiveDamagesandtheConstitutionAfterBrowningFerris Industries v. Kelco Disposal, Inc., 22 ARIZ. ST. L.J. 739, 742 (1990); see also Curtis Pub.Co.v.Butts,388U.S.130,160(1967)(Toexemptapublisher,becauseofthe natureofhiscalling,fromanimpositiongenerallyexactedfromothermembersof thecommunity,wouldbetoextendaprotectionnotrequiredbytheconstitutional guarantee.);Dayv.Woodworth,54U.S.(1How.)363,371(1851)(declaringthat

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Rosenbloom v. Metromedia, Inc., however, the Supreme Court begantoshiftitsapproachtodamages.16There,theCourtcon sidered whether the evidentiary standard announced in New York Times v. Sullivan17 should extend to private individuals involved in matters of public concern.18 A majority refused to extendtheNew YorkTimesstandard,andtheCourtsplintered on the issue of standards of proof required for public fig ures.19 This divergence prompted debate over the extent of damages available in defamation actions. Justices Stewart and Marshall urged the Court to adopt a negligence standard for actualdamagesproved,buttobarpunitivedamagesentirely.20 JusticeHarlandisagreed,deemingpunitivedamagesconstitu tionally permissible to the extent they had a reasonable and purposefulrelationshiptotheactualharmdone.21 Three years after Rosenbloom, the Supreme Court decided Gertzv.Welchandchangedthecontoursofpermissibledefama tion damages, adopting Justices Stewart and Marshalls view disallowing punitive damages.22 In Gertz, the Court considered the damages available to a private individual in a defamation suit against a magazine publisher. Because the heightened evi dentiary standard of New York Times did not apply to private plaintiffs,theCourtcautionedagainstthediscretionarypowerof juriesselectivelyto punishexpressions of unpopular views.23 The Court stressed that such punishment would lead to media selfcensorship,andheldthat,onashowingofnegligencealone, aprivateplaintiffcouldrecovercompensatorydamagesbutnot punitivedamages.24TheGertzbanonpunitivedamagesinsome

the validity of punitive damages was so well established that a contrary claim wouldnotadmitofargument). 16.403U.S.29(1971). 17.376U.S.254,27980(1964). 18.Rosenbloom,403U.S.at4344. 19.Id.at29. 20.Id.at8286(Marshall,J.,dissenting). 21.Id.at77(Harlan,J.,dissenting). 22.418U.S.323(1974). 23.Id.at350. 24.Id.at34749.

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circumstancesremainsbindingtoday,25althoughtheCourtlater limitedittomattersinvolvingapublicconcern.26 B. Obscenity

By contrast, the Supreme Court has consistently declined to limittheextentofpunishmentforobscenematerials.27InAlexan der v. United States, for example, the Court considered whether stiff punishment of obscenity under the Racketeer Influenced andCorruptPracticesAct(RICO)implicatedtheFirstAmend ment.28 The Court acknowledged that RICOs large forfeiture provision may lead cautious booksellers to...remove mar ginally protected materials from their shelves out of fear that thosematerialscouldbefoundobsceneandthussubjectthem to forfeiture.29 But the Court rejected the First Amendment chilling argument, ruling that the legitimate goal of curtailing obscenityprevailedoveritsincidentalselfcensorshipeffects.30 The punishment of obscenity, however, has not escaped con troversyontheCourt.JusticeKennedydissentedinAlexanderto arguethatRICOsforfeitureprovisionviolatedtheFirstAmend ment. Noting that the government must use measures that are sensitivetoFirstAmendmentconcernsin...punishingspeech, Justice Kennedy took issue with RICOs forfeiture provision be causeitauthorizedthegovernmenttoshutdownbookstoresthat soldotherwiseprotectedspeechafterfindingasingleobscenear ticle.31 In his view, the severity of RICOs penalties induced the evils of state censorship and selfcensorship beyond constitu tionally permissible levels.32 Justice Kennedy concluded that the
25.Herbertv.Lando,441U.S.153,162n.7(1979)(notingthatGertzlimitedthe entitlement to punitive damages); Patrick v. Cleveland Scene Pub. LLC, 582 F. Supp.2d939,956(N.D.Ohio2008)(applyingGertz). 26.SeeDun&Bradstreet,Inc.v.GreenmossBuilders,Inc.,472U.S.749,757 58(1985). 27.SeeAlexanderv.UnitedStates,509U.S.544,555(1993)(Wehaveinthepast rejected First Amendment challenges to statutes that impose severe prison sen tencesandfinesaspunishmentforobscenityoffenses.);FortWayneBooks,Inc. v. Indiana, 489 U.S. 46, 60 (1989) (declining to limit the extent of punishment of obsenityunderIndianalaw). 28.509U.S.544(1993). 29.Id.at55556. 30.Id.at556. 31.Id.at574(Kennedy,J.,dissenting)(citationsomitted). 32.Id.at572.

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censorialcastoftheforfeitureprovisionamountedinsubstance toapriorrestraintthatviolatedtheFirstAmendment.33 SixteenyearsbeforeAlexander,JusticeStevenstwicedeparted fromSupremeCourtprecedenttoarguethattheFirstAmend ment should limit the punishment of obscenity. In Marks v. UnitedStates,theCourtheldthatthethreepartMillerv.Califor nia34testforobscenitycouldnotbeappliedretroactivelytothe detriment of the defendant.35 Justice Stevens issued a separate opinion expressing his view that criminal prosecution of ob scenityimpermissiblyconflictswithFirstAmendmentvalues.36 Hedissentedfromacriminalconvictiononsimilargroundsin acontemporaneousobscenitycase,Smithv.UnitedStates.37Cit ingthenumerousproblemsinherentindefiningobscenity,Jus ticeStevensarguedagainthatsexuallyexplicitcontentshould be civillynot criminallyregulated.38 Justice Stevens failed, however,topersuadeamajorityofJustices.TheCourtaffirmed the criminal punishment of obscene speech,39 a standard that remainsineffect.40 C. SchoolSpeech

Without any controlling Supreme Court precedent, lower federalcourtshavedrawntheirownconclusionsabouttheex tent to which the First Amendment limits punishment of stu dent speech. In Ponce v. Socorro Independent District, the Fifth Circuit heard a students First Amendment challenge to his high schools decision to expel him because he had written in his journal about his plans for a Columbinestyle attack againsttheschool.41 Thecourt held that the writings qualified as threatening speech unprotected by the First Amendment

33.Id.at566,575. 34.413U.S.15,24(1973). 35.430U.S.188,19697(1977). 36.Id.at198(Stevens,J.,concurringinpartanddissentinginpart). 37.431U.S.291,313(1977)(Stevens,J.,dissenting). 38.Id. 39.Id.at309(majorityopinion). 40.See,e.g.,Ashcroftv.Am.CivilLibertiesUnion,535U.S.564,570(2002)(ap plyingMillersthreeparttest). 41.508F.3d765,766(5thCir.2007).

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and declined to consider whether the punishment was exces sive.42Rather,thecourtreasoned:


Because we conclude that no constitutional violation has oc curred,ourinquiryendshere.Ourroleistoenforceconstitu tionalrights,nottosetasidedecisionsofschooladministrators which[we]mayviewaslackingabasisinwisdomorcompas sion. Because the journals threatening language is not pro tectedbytheFirstAmendment,[theschooldistricts]discipli naryactionagainst[thestudent]violatednoprotectedright.43

TheEighthCircuitfollowedasimilarrationaleinDoev.Pu laski County Special School District.44 There, a middle school stu dentwhomadevulgarcommentsexpressingadesiretomolest, rape,andmurderhisexgirlfriendchallengedhisexpulsionon First Amendment grounds.45 As in Ponce, the court held that this language constituted a true threat, and that the schools disciplinary action did not violate the students First Amend mentrights.46Thecourtalsonotedthattheexpulsionappeared unnecessarilyharsh.47Nevertheless,thecourtdeclinedtore viewtheschoolsdecision,explainingthatthecourtlackedau thoritytoassessthewisdomofaparticularpunishment.48 Recent appellate cases have raised new questions about the extentofpunishmenttheFirstAmendmentallows.TheSecond CircuitsdecisioninDoningerv.Niehoffmarksthelatestexam ple. To support the dicta that punishment of student speech mayraiseconstitutionalconcerns,Doningerciteda2007deci sionfromthesamecircuit,Wisniewskiv.BoardofEducationofthe WeedsportCentralSchoolDistrict.49LikeDoninger,Wisniewskiin volvedschooldisciplineinresponsetoastudentsoffcampus expression. The school district suspended Martin Wisniewski after he displayed an instant message icon to other students that contained threats against a teacher,50 and the Second Cir
42.Id.at772. 43.Id.(citingWoodv.Strickland,420U.S.308,326(1975)). 44.306F.3d616(8thCir.2002). 45.Id.at619. 46.Id.at62627. 47.Id.at627. 48.Id.(citingWood,420U.S.at326). 49.494F.3d34(2dCir.2007). 50.Id.at3536.

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cuit upheld the schools punishment.51 Wisniewski added that, because the students parents failed to challenge the extent of the schools punishment specifically, the court need not de terminewhethersuchachallengewouldhavetobegrounded ontheFirstAmendmentitselforthesubstantivecomponentof theDueProcessClauseoftheFourteenthAmendment.52 nLaVinev.BlaineSchoolDistrict,astudentspecificallychal I lengedtheextenthisschoolpunishedhimforhisunprotected speechthe kind of challenge that was never pled in Wisniewskiand the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals invali dated part of the schools punishment.53 After James LaVine gaveaviolentpoemtoateacher,LaVineshighschoolexpelled himtemporarilyanddocumentedtheexpulsionwithaletterin his school file. LaVine claimed his schools expulsion and documentation decisions violated his First Amendment rights.54 The Ninth Circuit ruled that the First Amendment permitted the expulsion because the school acted with suffi cient grounds to avert perceived potential harm.55 But the Ninth Circuit found no similar grounds for the placement of theletterinLaVinesfileand,withsparsereasoning,heldthat it went beyond the schools legitimate documentation needs.56Thecourtdidnot,however,specifythelevelofscru tinyitappliedtotheschoolsdisciplinarydecision. Doninger, Wisniewski, and LaVine raise striking questions. Theysuggestthattheextenttowhichaschoolpunishesastu dent for his unprotected speech may raise constitutional con cerns under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The re mainder of this Note explores how these constitutional guaranteesshouldbeappliedtostudentspeech. II. ILLFITTINGLEVELSOFSCRUTINY:INTERMEDIATESCRUTINY ANDRATIONALBASIS

Questions about the extent of punishment enter a First Amendment analysis only in particular settings. The relevant
51.Id.at35. 52.Id.at40. 53.257F.3d981(9thCir.2001). 54.Id.at986. 55.Id.at99091. 56.Id.at992.

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speech must be unprotected because protected speech cannot be punished.57 Courts confronted with a challenge to punish mentofunprotectedstudentspeechhaveseveralpotentialcon stitutional tools to evaluate the claim. The First Amendment itself is one of these potential tools, as courts may apply the First Amendment to punishment of student speech through intermediatescrutinyoraformofrationalbasisreview.58This Partexploresbothoftheselevelsofscrutinyandconcludesthat neither provides a satisfactory means to assess punishment of unprotectedstudentspeech.59 A. IntermediateScrutiny

Courts may apply intermediate scrutiny to punishment of student speech. Under intermediate scrutiny, a court will up hold a law if it advances some important government interest and is reasonably well tailored to that interest.60 Beginning in the 1980s, federal courts gravitated toward intermediate scru tinyasthedefaultlevelofscrutinyforvariousstrandsofFirst
57.Punishmentofspeechisdistinctfromsuppressionofspeech.SeeEmilyGold Waldman,RegulatingStudentSpeech:SuppressionVersusPunishment,85IND. L.J.1 (forthcoming2010).Speechsuppressionenjoinsthespeechasexpressed,whereas punishment of speech occurs after the speech has occurred. For instance, an in junction prohibits speech itself ex ante, and thus constitutes a suppression of speech. See, e.g., Hazelwood Sch. Dist. v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 258, 26667 (1988) (upholding school officials decision to cut vulgar and offensive terms from a schoolnewspaperbeforeitwaspublished).Whenaspeakerviolatesaninjunction orengagesinunprotectedspeech,however,thequestionofpunishmentarises. 58.The two other First Amendment levels of scrutinyad hoc balancing and strictscrutinycanbeimmediatelyrejectedforparallelreasons.Abalancingtest would be inappropriate because it grants judges too much authority to second guesstheexpertiseanddiscretionofschoolofficials.Moreover,asadhocbalanc ingtestsinvolvetheweighingofinterestsinparticularcases,strongpublicopin ionmaydeterminetheoutcomeofthetest.See,e.g.,Dennisv.UnitedStates,341 U.S. 494, 50910 (1951) (applying ad hoc balancing test to uphold defendants convictions for trying to organize a communist political party). Strict scrutiny is similarly inappropriate because it would forbid the government from restricting speechthatithastheconstitutionalprerogativetorestrict.Thus,abalancingtest andstrictscrutinyarenotplausible. 59.Although these levels of scrutiny developed in Equal Protection cases, the Supreme Court has incorporated each of them into the First Amendment arena. SeeTurnerBroadcastingSystem,Inc.v.FCC,512U.S.622,66162(1994)(remand ing for lower court to apply intermediate scrutiny to contentneutral television programming regulations); Barnes v. Glen Theatre, Inc., 501 U.S. 560, 580 (1991) (Scalia,J.,concurring)(applyingrationalbasisreviewtonudedancingrestrictions). 60.AshutoshBhagwat,TheTestthatAteEverything:IntermediateScrutinyinFirst AmendmentJurisprudence,2007U.ILL.L.REV.783,801.

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Amendment claims.61 And in Gertz v. Welch, concerns about selfcensorship led the Supreme Court to examine defamation awards with heightened scrutiny.62 There, the Court inter pretedtheFirstAmendmenttorequirethatstateremediesfor defamatoryfalsehoodreachnofartherthanisnecessarytopro tect the legitimate interest involved.63 The Court thus indi cated that some level of scrutiny less deferential than strict scrutiny, but more rigorous than rational basis review, can be appliedtopunishmentofunprotectedspeech. Butintermediatescrutinyremainsillsuitedtoreviewtheex tent of school discipline under the First Amendment. Courts have neither explicitly nor consistently extended intermediate scrutinybeyondrestrictionsonprotectedformsofspeech.Ap plyingintermediatescrutinytothepunishmentofunprotected student speechby definition, speech of less constitutional valuewould thus be inconsistent with the entire thrust of FirstAmendmentjurisprudence. Further,applyingintermediatescrutinytothepunishmentof unprotected speech would create an unmanageable standard. Lower courts have shirked the Supreme Courts guidance in applying intermediate scrutiny. Professor Ashutosh Bhagwat hasreported,forexample,thatalthoughnochallengetoregu lationofasexuallyorientedbusinesshassucceededintheSu premeCourt,35.3%ofsuchchallengessucceedinthecourtsof appeals.64Themostplausibleexplanationforthedivergenceof lowercourtsfromtheSupremeCourtsguidanceisthatinter mediatescrutinyimplicitlyforcescourtstobalancetheasserted policy against constitutional interests.65 Balancing tests breed disorder among courts because of their inherent uncertainty andbecauselowercourtshaveshownasystematicinabilityto

61.Id.at80102(citingTurner,512U.S.622;Barnes,501U.S.at566;Bd.ofTrs.of theStateUniv.ofN.Y.v.Fox,492U.S.469,477(1989);Wardv.RockAgainstRa cism, 491 U.S. 781, 79798 (1989); City of Renton v. Playtime Theatres, Inc., 475 U.S.41,4655(1986)). 62.418U.S.323,34950(1974). 63.Id.at349. 64.See Bhagwat, supra note60, at 818. ProfessorBhagwat also documented di vergence between the lower courts and the Supreme Court in symbolic speech andintime,place,andmannercases.Id. 65.SeeGeoffreyR.Stone,ContentNeutralRestrictions,54U.CHI.L.REV.46,58(1987).

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calibratetheirconstitutionalanalysistotherelativestrengthsof thespeechandregulatoryinterestsinvolved.66 The application of intermediate scrutiny to the discipline of unprotectedstudentspeechwillproduceasimilarhostofdiffi cult and opaque questions of application. School officials will have to account for the uncertainty of whether their discipli nary decisions involving student speech substantially relate totheirgoal.Giventheevolvingformsofstudentspeech67and theexpertiseofschool officials in metingout disciplinetoad vanceschoolgoals,thediscrepanciesamongfederalcourtswill likelymultiply.Inshort,applyingintermediatescrutinytothe extentschoolofficialspunishunprotectedstudentspeechruns counter to the Supreme Courts guidance and would under mineanycoherenceimpartedbysuchalevelofscrutiny. B. RationalBasisReview

Rational basis review affords another means to review the extent of punishment. Professor Emily Gold Waldman has ar gued in favor of implementing a First Amendment reason ableness backstop against excessive punishment of student speech.68Otherscholarshaveadvocatedapplyingrationalbasis reviewtominimallyvaluedspeech.69Areasonablenessstan dard would likely resemble rational basis review in the Equal Protectionarena.Therationalbasisstandardisimmenselydef erential, requiring only that the governmental action be ra tionally related to a legitimate government interest.70 Ra
66.Bhagwat,supranote60,at820. 67.CompareTinkerv.DesMoinesIndep.Sch.Dist.,393U.S.503,504(1969)(arm bands),withDoningerv.Niehoff,527F.3d41(2dCir.2008)(blogposting). 68.Waldman,supranote57(manuscriptat34).ProfessorWaldmanarguesthat courts should apply a reasonableness standard to rectify any abuses of discre tion.Id.(manuscriptat35). 69.SeeEdwardJ.Eberle,TheArchitectureofFirstAmendmentFreeSpeech9(Roger Williams Univ.Sch.ofLawFaculty Papers, Paper 14, 2007). Unprotected speech has no necessary minimal value. Yet, Justice Scalia has asserted that even un protected speech implicates First Amendment interests, writing that constitu tionallyproscribablecontent[doesnotcomprise]categoriesofspeechentirelyinvisi ble to the Constitution, so that they may be made vehicles for content discrimination.R.A.V.v.CityofSt.Paul,505U.S.375,38384(1992)(emphasis added)(citationsomitted).Hence,astateactorstreatmentofunprotectedspeech maywarrantsomedegreeofjudicialscrutiny. 70.NewOrleansv.Dukes,427U.S.297,303(1976).

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tionalbasisisappealinginthatitprovidesabaselineofscrutiny thatcourtshaveexperienceapplying.71 Despite its benefits, rational basis review of the extent of schoolpunishmentwouldhavefataldrawbacks.Thestandard provideslessclarityinapplicationthanitsplainlanguagesug gests.72 Laws subject to rational basis review under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment will almost certainlybeupheld.73Butcourtshaveincreasinglytakenlicense to strike down laws that should easily survive the standard form of rational basis review.74 Some of these laws may have
71.RationalbasisreviewhasfoundsomesupportinFirstAmendmentcasesre viewingtheextentofpunishmentofunprotectedspeech.Gertzdeclaredpunitive damages invalid under the First Amendment because punitive damages are whollyirrelevanttothestateinterestthatjustifiesanegligencestandardforpri vate defamation actions. Gertz v. Welch, 418 U.S. 323, 350 (1974). In the school speech context, the Ninth Circuit upheld an emergency expulsion against First Amendment challenge because it was a reasonable response to the students threatening speech. LaVine v.BlaineSch.Dist.,257F.3d 981,990 (9thCir. 2001). Hence,inbothexamples,thecourtsrequiredabaselinelevelofscrutinythatre sembledrationalbasisreview. 72.In his majority opinion in U.S. Railroad Retirement Board v. Fritz, Justice Rehnquistconcludedthateven [t]he most arrogant legal scholar would not claim that all...cases applied a uniform or consistent [rational basis] test under equal protection principles. And realistically speaking, we can be no more certain that this opinion will remain undisturbed than were those who joinedtheopinion...inanyoftheothercasesreferredtointhisopinion andinthedissentingopinion. 449U.S.166,176n.10(1980).ClarkNeilyhascharacterizedrationalbasisreview as nothing more than a Magic Eight Ball that randomly generates different an swerstokeyconstitutionalquestionsdependingonwhohappenstobeshakingit and with what level of vigor. Clark Neily, No Such Thing: Litigating Under the Rational Basis Test, 1 N.Y.U. J.L. & LIBERTY 897, 897 (2008). Neily indicts rational basisreviewfurtherinreferencetotheSupremeCourtsrecordofblatantlymis applyingitinordertoachievepreferredoutcomes.Id.at909. 73.See Note, Rational Reviews, Irrational Results, 84 TEX. L. REV. 801, 802 (2006) (statingthatthegovernmentsinterestswillalmostalwaysprevailovertheindi vidualsinrationalbasisreview). 74.See,e.g.,CityofCleburnev.CleburneLivingCtr.,473U.S.432(1985)(rational basisreviewappliedtoinvalidateordinancethatpreventedoperationofacenterfor thementallydisabled);Hooperv.BernalilloCountyAssessor,472U.S.612,61823 (1985) (invalidating New Mexico tax preference that differentiated between short termandlongtermresidents);Williamsv.Vermont,472U.S.14,27(1985)(rejecting a tax burdening outofstate car buyers); Met. Life Ins. Co. v. Ward, 470 U.S. 869, 88283 (1985) (condemning state law under rational basis review that tried to prompt growth of instate insurance industry with lower tax rates than those im posedonoutofstatecompanies);U.S.Dept.ofAgric.v.Moreno,413U.S.528(1973) (invalidatingunderrationalbasisreviewfederallawthatrestrictedfoodstampsto

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been unwise or deserving of stricter review. Courts, however, havecloakedtheserulingsinrationalbasislanguagesuchthat ampleuncertaintyexistsastowhetheralawwillreceiveultra deferential rational basis review or the socalled rational basis reviewwithbite.75 Thedangerofanunclearordiscretionarylevelofscrutiny isheightenedwhenappliedtothepunishmentofunprotected studentspeech.Rationalbasisreviewwouldnotguardagainst school officials abuse of disciplinary discretion. By definition, schoolswillalwayshavealegitimategovernmentinterestin punishing unprotected speech.76 The only remaining legal question would be whether the degree of punishment bears a rationalrelationshiptopreventingthespeech.Butinrational basisreview,courtspermitoverandunderinclusivemeans.77 Thus,excessivepunishmentwouldalwayssatisfythisstandard becauseitwoulddeterthespeechatissue,evenifthepunish mentdeterredprotectedspeechaswell.
householdscomposedofunrelatedoccupantsalthoughthegovernmentarguedthat itwouldhelpreducefraud);ChristianHeritageAcad.v.Okla.SecondarySch.Ac tivities Assn, 483 F.3d 1025, 1031 (10th Cir. 2007) (striking down athletic associa tionsmembershiprequirementsfornonpublicschools). 75.See Posting of Ilya Somin to The Volokh Conspiracy, http://volokh.com/ archives/archive_2007_04_082007_04_14.shtml(Apr.12,2007,22:23EDT);seealso Gerald Gunther, Foreword: In Search of Evolving Doctrine on a Changing Court: A ModelforaNewerEqualProtection,86HARV.L.REV.1,1824(1972)(findingthatin the197172SupremeCourtterm,nearlyhalfoftheequalprotectioncasesfound bite in the equal protection clause after explicitly voicing the traditionally tooth lessminimalscrutinystandard);JeffreyShaman,CracksintheStructure:TheCom ingBreakdownoftheLevelsofScrutiny,45OHIOST.L.J.161(1984). 76.InU.S.RailroadRetirementBd.v.Fritz,449U.S.166,179(1980),theSupreme Courtexplainedthatanyconceivablelegitimatepurposequalifiesunderrational basis review. The Court stated: Where, as here, there are plausible reasons for Congressaction,ourinquiryisatanend.Itis,ofcourse,constitutionallyirrele vantwhetherthisreasoninginfactunderlaythelegislativedecision....Id.(ci tations omitted). It follows that when student speech is unprotected because it jeopardizestheeducationalorprotectivemissionofschools,schoolofficialshave atleastoneconceivablelegitimatepurposeforpunishingtheoffendingstudent. 77.SeeDandridgev.Williams,397U.S.471,485(1970)(statingthatastatelaw, ifitpossessesareasonablebasis,isnotunconstitutionalsimplybecausethe[law] is not made with mathematical nicety or because in practice it results in some inequality); see also Vance v. Bradley, 440 U.S. 93, 10609 (1979) (applying ra tionalbasisandupholdingfederallawmandatingretirementatagesixtyforFor eign Service Retirement System participants even though the scheme would be bothoverinclusiveandunderinclusive,inpartbecauseitisinturnrelatedtothe secondaryobjectiveoflegislativeconvenience).

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Additionally, rational basis review would not generate use fulprecedent.Thedegreethatpunishmentrelatestoagoalfun damentally differs from the meansends equal protection in quiry.Inequalprotectioncases,theparticulartypeofrestraint must bear a rational relationship with the actions goal. In evaluatingschooldiscipline,however,acourt will insteaden gageinthemorearbitrarytaskofassessingthedegreeofpun ishment. For, whatever precedential import rational basis re view supplies, it does not supply a meaningful metric to evaluate whether a particular punishment was too heavy, too light, or just right.78 What rational basis does provide is cover foracourttoinsertitselfintoschoolofficialsdecisionmaking processesbymanipulatinganambiguouslevelofscrutiny. Professor Waldman has argued that courts should distin guish between speech that is entirely unprotected by the First Amendmentandstudentspeechthatschoolscanonlysuppress under the ratcheteddown First Amendment guarantees af forded to students in schools.79 According to this view, courts shouldaddadistinctlayerofscrutinytopunishmentofspeech that would otherwise be protected outside of schools.80 This argument is problematic for a few reasons. First, federal and state law narrowly circumscribes school officials disciplinary discretion.81 A compensatory First Amendment standard thus constitutesacureinsearchofadisease.Worse,compensating fortheaddeddeferenceschoolshavetosuppressspeechwith lessdeferencetoschooldisciplinarymeasuresunderminesthe grantofdeferencealtogether.Instead,itwillpushcourtsdown the treacherous path of using the First Amendment to limit school officials discretion to punish expression that the First Amendmentsimplydoesnotprotect.82
78.The Fifth Circuit commented on the fundamental arbitrariness of such re view,statingthat,[w]ethinkitamisuseofourjudicialpowertodetermine,for example,whetherateacherhasactedarbitrarilyinpaddlingaparticularchildfor certain behavior or whether in a particular instance of misconduct five licks wouldhavebeenamoreappropriatepunishmentthantenlicks.Feev.Herndon, 900F.2d804,809(5thCir.1990)(citationsomitted). 79.Waldman,supranote57(manuscriptat38). 80.Id. 81.SeeinfraPartIII. 82.Professor Waldman relies on the idea that some properly suppressed stu dent speech is protected outside of the school setting. Waldman, supra note 57 (manuscript at 38). This argument glosses over the Supreme Courts efforts to craftsettingspecificFirstAmendmentprecedent.TheFirstAmendmentdoesnot

No.2] III.

TheFirstAmendment TAKINGTHEFIRSTAMENDMENTOUTOFTHEPICTURE

899

Tobesure,studentsdeservelegalrecoursefromtrulyexces sivepunishment.Butthisconcerndoesnotjustifyerroneously construingtheFirstAmendmenttoreviewthedegreetowhich schoolofficialsdisciplinestudentsforengaginginunprotected speech.Thedeferencecourtstraditionallygranttoschooloffi cialsspeechsuppressionsuggeststhatananalysisofdiscipline based on the First Amendment will be unworkable.83 As the obscenity line of cases demonstrates, concerns with self censorshiparenotsufficientlycompellingtoupsetdeferenceto disciplinary authorities. Moreover, existing procedural con straintsandstatelawprovidesufficientlimitsontheextentto whichaschoolcanpunishstudents,thusobviatingtheneedto createanovellevelofscrutinyundertheFirstAmendment. A. DeferenceAffirmed

Although the Supreme Court has not declared the extent to whichschoolscanpunishstudentspeech,theCourthasclearly indicated that school officials decisions deserve ample defer ence.84Schooladministratorshaveboththeexpertiseandduty to protect students from abuse and to maintain a hospitable educationalenvironment.85Recognizingthisdeference,theSu preme Court has directed that [i]t is not the role of federal courtstosetasidedecisionsofschooladministratorswhichthe courtmayviewaslackingabasisinwisdomorcompassion.86 The deference owed to school officials calls into question the propriety of First Amendment review of school discipline. The SupremeCourthasdeniedthatithasauthoritytoreviewtheex
affordidenticalprotectionsinacourtroom,acitystreet,onnetworktelevision,or inschools.Thatsomespeechisprotectedinonesettingbutnotanotherisaprod uct of responsive judicial interpretation and does not justify overextending the FirstAmendmenttocompensateforthesedifferences. 83.SeesupraPartII. 84.See,e.g.,Woodv.Strickland,420U.S.308,326(1975)(emphasizingthedefer ence owed to school officials discretionary decisions by courts); Layschock v. HermitageSch.Dist.,496F.Supp.2d587,597(W.D.Pa.2007)(statingthatcourts must defer to school administrators determinations regarding whether student behaviorwithintheirsupervisionmeritspunishment). 85.See Waldman, supra note 57 (manuscript at 10) (noting that all of the Courts recognized rationales for reducing students free speech rights come downtoprotectionandeducation). 86.Wood,420U.S.at326.

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tentofpunishmentincriminalobscenitycases,inwhichthepun ishment was far harsher than that available to school officials.87 Furthermore, the First Amendment rights of adults engaged in pornographicspeechare,intheory,coextensivewiththerightsof adults engaged in fully valued forms of speech.88 Hence, in the school context, where school officials deserve added deference but can only impose less severe forms of discipline, the case for declining to review the extent of discipline under the First Amendmentisevenstrongerthanintheobscenitycontext. Federal courts have affirmed the deference owed to school officials by wisely ending the First Amendment inquiry after determining that the speech was unprotected.89 And a district courtdeclinedtoextendtheWisniewskidictatolimitdiscipline ofunprotectedstudentspeechbecausethecourtinWisniewski foundnosupportforthepropositionthat[thestudents]sus pension was unconstitutionally severe.90 Indeed, Wisniewski, Doninger,andtheFirstAmendmentprovidenosupportforju dicial scrutiny of the extent to which school officials punish unprotectedstudentspeech.

87.See Alexander v. United States, 509 U.S. 544, 556 (1993) (holding that the chilling effect of harsh punishment of obscene materials does not violate the FirstAmendment). 88.SeeR.A.V.v.CityofSt.Paul,505U.S.377,382(1992)(holdingthatcontent based regulations are presumptively invalid). Despite the presumption against contentbasedregulations,theSupremeCourthasgrantedgreaterlatitudetothe regulationofsexuallyorientedspeechthatfallsbelowtheMillerobscenitythresh oldandisthereforeprotectedbytheFirstAmendment.SeeBarnesv.GlenThea tre,Inc.,501U.S.560(1991)(upholdingIndianabanonnudedancing);Youngv. AmericanMiniTheaters,Inc.,427U.S.50,7071(1976)(upholdingcityordinance excluding adult theaters from operating in certain areas). These opinions, how ever, emphasize the secondary effects of sexually oriented speech and the Court has not deferred to regulationof sexuallyoriented speech nearly to the extent it defers to the regulation of student speech. See Erznoznik v. City of Jacksonville, 422 U.S. 205, 207 (1975) (holding ordinanceunconstitutional that barred drivein movie theaters from showing motion pictures containing uncovered but tocks...orbreasts). 89.See,e.g.,Poncev.SocorroIndep.Dist.,508F.3d765,772(5thCir.2007);Doe v.PulaskiCountySpecialSch.Dist.,306F.3d616,62627(8thCir.2002). 90.Cuffv.ValleyCent.Sch.Dist.,559F.Supp.2d415,42223(S.D.N.Y.2008).On review,theSecondCircuitvacatedthedistrictcourtsgrantofsummaryjudgment fortheschoolbecausethecourtcouldnotfindthatitwasreasonableasamatterof law to foresee a material and substantial disruption to the school environment. Cuffv.ValleyCent.Sch.Dist.,341Fed.Appx692,693(2dCir.2009).

No.2] B.

TheFirstAmendment SelfCensorshipinContext

901

heprincipalFirstAmendmentdangerofharshpunishment T is selfcensorship.91 Yet, as in Alexander v. United States, the Court has brooked selfcensorship resulting from harsh sanc tions of expressive content when the government has a legiti mateinterestinpunishment.Schoolofficialshavealegitimate interest in maintaining a protective and educational environ ment and can punish unprotected student speech to cultivate suchanenvironment.Thechillingargumentthusdoesnotjus tifyreviewofschooldisciplineundertheFirstAmendment. Obscenityandstudentspeechalsocanbedistinguishedfrom the Supreme Courts defamation precedent barring punitive damages. Defamation is a tort action involving private wrongs; obscenity and unprotected student speech constitute publicwrongs.92Thisstructuraldistinctionaffectsthenature ofpunishmentforlegallyliablespeech:Stateactorspunishob scenity and student speech by imposing sanctions, while pri vate defamation plaintiffs receive awards of priced speech.93 Through tort laws remedies jurisprudence, courts can mean ingfullyreviewwhetheranawardofdamagesexceededarea sonable price for the plaintiffs losses. Courts have no compa rablemetrictomeasurewhetherpunishmentofobscenityand unprotected student speech constituted appropriate sanc tions.94Thus,courtshaverejecteduseoftheFirstAmendment to limit the extent of obscenity punishment,95 as they should withunprotectedstudentspeech.

91.Gertzv.Welch,418U.S.323,350(1974). 92.Gertzexpresslyallowedpunitivedamageswhenaplaintiffmettheeviden tiaryrequisitesestablishedbyNewYorkTimesv.Sullivanuptotheamountofthe injury caused by the plaintiff, but found punitive damages problematic to the extent they are private fines levied by civil juries to punish reprehensible con duct and todeter its future occurrence.Gertz, 418 U.S. at 350 (citing New York Timesv.Sullivan,376U.S.254(1964)).Althoughindividualssufferfromobscen ityanddisruptivestudentspeech,punishmentinthesecontextsisnotimposedby oronbehalfofaprivatevictim. 93.SeeRobertCooter,PricesandSanctions,84COLUM.L.REV.1523,1523(1984). 94.Criminal law also uses a proportionality principle, such that punishment ideally should be proportionate to the culpability of the defendant and the seri ousnessofhispublicwrong.SeeKennethW.Simons,TheCrime/TortDistinction: LegalDoctrineandNormativePerspectives,17WIDENERL.J.719,72021(2008). 95.Alexanderv.UnitedStates,509U.S.544,556(1993).

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Courts have been willing to grant school disciplinary deci sions wide deference partly because students retain due proc essprotectionsthatlimittheextentschoolscanpunishunpro tectedstudentspeech. 1. ProceduralDueProcessProtections

Althoughnotasthoroughasthedueprocessprotectionsaf forded to criminal defendants, students have procedural due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. The proce duraldueprocessguaranteeencompassestherightofstudents to have fair warning of prohibited conduct.96 Moreover, the Supreme Court has interpreted the Due Process Clause to af fordstudentsfacingtemporarysuspensionstherighttoreceive oral or written notice of the charges against them and, if the studentdeniesthecharges,anexplanationoftheevidenceheld bytheschoolofficialsaswellasanopportunitytopresenttheir side of the story.97 For suspensions of longer than ten days or expulsions, students are entitled to more formal procedures.98 Depending on the state and court, these procedures can be as extensive as a full adversarial hearing.99 Finally, due process requires that school officials adhere to their own disciplinary codes,thusdecreasingthelikelihoodthatabuseofdisciplinary authoritywilllacklegalremedy.100
96.See, e.g., Smith v. Goguen, 415 U.S. 566, 57273 (1974) (citations omitted); Stephenson v. Davenport County Sch. Dist., 110 F.3d 1303, 1308 (8th Cir. 1997); Chalifouxv.NewCaneyIndep.Sch.Dist.,976F.Supp.659,669(S.D.Tex.1997). 97.Gossv.Lopez,419U.S.521,581(1975). 98.Id.at584. 99.See, e.g., IDAHO CODE ANN. 33205 (2009); KAN. STAT. ANN. 728903 (2008); MASS. GEN. LAWS ch. 71 37H (2009); MINN. STAT. 121A.47 (2009); S.C. CODEANN.5963240(2008);VA.CODEANN.22.1277.2(2009). 100.SeeC.J.v.Sch.Bd.ofBrowardCounty,438So.2d87(Fla.App.1983)(in validating exclusion from summer session for student having knife at bus stop becauseknifewasnotaweaponasdefinedinschoolrule);Shumanv.Univ.of Minn. Law Sch., 451 N.W.2d 71 (Minn. App. 1990) (upholding school discipline because students were given the procedures provided for in the honor code); Rauerv.StateUniv.ofN.Y.,Albany,552N.Y.S.2d983,984(N.Y.App.Div.1990) (upholding longterm suspension because school followed rules pertaining to academic dishonesty); Boehm v. Univ. of Pa. Sch. of Veterinary Med., 573 A.2d 575,582(Pa.Super.1990)(upholdinglongtermsuspensionfromprivateuniver sity because school followed its Code of Rights punctiliously and...the disci plinary proceeding complied with due process and [was] fundamentally fair); Galveston Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Boothe, 590 S.W.2d 553, 55657 (Tex. Civ. App.

No.2] 2.

TheFirstAmendment SubstantiveDueProcessProtections

903

Studentshavesubstantivedueprocessrightsaswell.Substan tive due process protects a students individual liberty against certain government actions regardless of the fairness of the proceduresusedtoimplementthem.101Studentshavehadlim ited success in identifying specific liberty or property interests protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.102 Some courts, how ever, have allowed students to base substantive due process claims on school zero tolerance policies.103 Courts have also found substantive due process violations when school officials imposed grossly excessive physical punishment or punishment intended to inflict injury.104 The substantive due process rights enjoyedbystudentsshouldnotbeoverstated:Careless,unwise, ormerelypainfulactionsbyschoolofficialswillnotfindremedy insubstantivedueprocess,whichfunctionsonlyastheultimate safety net for individual rights.105 But substantive due process rights form one layer of the many constraints on the extent to whichschoolofficialscanpunishstudents. D. ABetterLimitationonPunishment:StateLaw

irstAmendmentreviewofpunishmentofunprotectedstu F dent speech would also threaten to subvert federalism princi ples.Studentdisciplinarydecisionsaremattersofstateandlo
1979)(reversingsuspensionofhighschoolstudentbecauseschooldistrictfailedto followitsownrulesindiscipliningstudent). 101.Collinsv.HarkerHeights,503U.S.115,125(1992)(citationsomitted). 102.SeeGrendellv.Gilway,974F.Supp.46,50(D.Me.1997). 103.See,e.g.,Sealv.Morgan,229F.3d567,578(6thCir.2000). 104.See,e.g.,Gottliebv.LaurelHighlandsSch.Dist.,272F.3d168(3dCir.2001) (findingviolationofsubstantivedueprocessrightswhenschoolofficialsalleged assault against student was conscienceshocking); Johnson v. Newburgh EnlargedSch.Dist.,239F.3d246,252(2dCir.2001)(same);Nealv.FultonCounty Bd. of Educ., 229 F.3d 1069, 107576 (11th Cir. 2000) (finding school officials al legedbeatingofstudentsufficientlysupportedaclaimofasubstantivedueproc essviolation);P.B.v.Koch,96F.3d1298,130304(9thCir.1996)(denyingthata principal who physically assaulted students was entitled to qualified immunity because he violated their clearly established substantive due process rights); Hall v. Tawney, 621 F.2d 607,61314 (4th Cir. 1980) (holdingthat corporal pun ishment may violate a students substantive due process rights); Orange v. CountyofGrundy,950F.Supp.1365,1373(E.D.Tenn.1996)(denyingschooloffi cialssummaryjudgmentmotionbecauseareasonableteacherintheindividual defendants position would have known that the daylong isolation of students withoutaccesstolunchortoiletfacilitieswasunconstitutional). 105.SeeCHARLESJ.RUSSO&RALPHD.MAWDSLEY,EDUCATIONLAW191(2002).

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cal policy.106 Justice Kennedy voiced the need for deference to state law in light of Americas federalist framework when he wrote that federal control of the discipline of our Nations schoolchildreniscontrarytoourtraditionsandinconsistentwith thesensibleadministrationofourschools.107Accordingly,fed eralcourtsshouldbewarytoassertcontroloverthedaytoday decisions of school officials, especially when this control dis placestheauthorityofstatecourtsandpolicymakers. The constraints state laws place on school discipline further render First Amendment review unnecessary. State tort and criminal remedies have long protected students against exces sivepunishment.108Wherestatestakeaffirmativestepstopro tect students from overzealous disciplinarians, federal courts havedeclinedconstitutionalwarranttoreviewschoolofficials disciplinarydecisions.109InIngrahamv.Wright,forexample,the SupremeCourtrefusedtoevaluateastudentsclaimsthatcor poralpunishmentviolatedtheFourteenthAmendmentbecause the traditional commonlaw remedies are fully adequate to afforddueprocess.110AlthoughtheFirstAmendmentprotects interests distinct from those covered by the Fourteenth Amendment,thepresenceofstatecommonlawdiminishesthe concern that arbitrary and excessive discipline by school offi cialswilllacksufficientlegalremedy. Evenifstatetortorcriminallawprovidedinadequateprotec tion against unreasonable punishment, state constitutions af ford independent speech guarantees. Every state constitution
106.Feev.Herndon,900F.2d804,809(5thCir.1990). 107.Davisv.MonroeCountyBd.ofEduc.,526U.S.629,658(1999)(Kennedy, J.,dissenting). 108.SeeDeanaA.Pollard,BanningCorporalPunishment:AConstitutionalAnaly sis,52AM.U.L. REV.447,472(2002)(notingthatmoststatesaffordtortremedies forstudentssubjecttounreasonablecorporalpunishmentbyschoolofficials);see alsoKlumpv.NazarethAreaSch.Dist.,425F.Supp.2d622(E.D.Pa.2006)(deny ing qualified immunity motion in tort action because plaintiff pleaded sufficient evidence that school officials acted outside authority); Gaither v. Barron, 924 F. Supp.134,136(M.D.Ala.1996)(denyingallegationofexcessiveforceagainststu dent because of the availability in Alabama of state criminal and civil actions againstateacherwhoexcessivelypunishesachild);Comment,CorporalPunish ment in the Public Schools: The Effect of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, 29 BAYLORL.REV.549,556n.61(1977)(citingnineteenthcenturyTexascriminalcon victionsofteacherswhoabusivelyengagedincorporalpunishment). 109.SeeIngrahamv.Wright,430U.S.651,672(1977);Fee,900F.2dat808. 110.Ingraham,430U.S.at672.

No.2]

TheFirstAmendment

905

protects speech in language comparable to the First Amend ment.111 But states have additional explicit and implicit re straintsonthedegreetowhichstateactorscanpunishunpro tected speech. Ten states have constitutions that require proportionate penalties.112 Seventeen other state constitutions barcruelorunusualpenaltiesandanothersixstateconstitu tionsprohibitcruelpunishment.113Apluralityofstateconsti tutionstwentytwomirrortheEighthAmendmentsbanon cruelandunusualpunishment.114 TheEighthAmendmentdoesnotapplytononcriminalpun ishment115 and states with constitutions containing identical language have been reluctant to extend this language beyond federal standards.116 Yet state courts have authority to go be yond the federal minimum standards on individual rights.117 Justice Brennan emphasized this authority by warning that our liberties cannot survive if the states betray the trust the Courthasputinthem.118Andstatecourtshaveaffirmatively answered Justice Brennans call by departing from federal precedent to limit punishments they consider excessive.119 Be
111.Note, Private Abridgment of Speech and the State Constitutions, 90 YALE L.J. 165,178(1980). 112.See E. THOMAS SULLIVAN & RICHARD S. FRASE, PROPORTIONALITY PRINCI PLES IN AMERICAN LAW: CONTROLLING EXCESSIVE GOVERNMENT ACTIONS 154 (1984)(listingstates). 113.Id. 114.Id. 115.Ingraham,430U.S.at67071,671n.40. 116.See SULLIVAN & FRASE, supra note 112, at 155 (explaining that state courts are surprisingly reluctant to grant broader protection againstexcessive penalties understateconstitutionsthanthefederalconstitutionprovides). 117.SeeKelov.CityofNewLondon,545U.S.469,489(2005)(emphasizingthat state constitutions may have stronger restrictions on the exercise of eminent do mainpowerthanthefederalconstitution);ParisAdultTheatreIv.Slaton,413U.S. 49,64(1973)(statingthatstatesmaylowerlegalrestrictionsonsexuallyoriented speech below federally permissible levels). The Federal Bill of Rights provides a minimumlevelofprotectionofindividualrightswhichstatesmayexceed,butnot reject.RobertForce,StateBillsofRights:ACaseofNeglectandtheNeedforaRen aissance,3VAL.U.L.REV.125,129(1969). 118.William J. Brennan, Jr., State Constitutions and the Protection of Individual Rights,90HARV.L.REV.489,503(1977). 119.See, e.g., In re Rodriguez, 537 P.2d 384, 394 (Cal. 1975) (ruling that under Californiascruelorunusualclausethemeasureoftheconstitutionalityofpun ishment for crime is individual culpability in the law of this state); Conner v. State, 626 N.E.2d 803, 806 (Ind. 1993) (holdingthat Indianas proportionate pun ishment clause affords more protection than the Eighth Amendment); State v.

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causemanystateconstitutionshavebroaderlanguagerestrict ing punishment than the federal constitution, and state courts have license to take broader interpretations of speech rights than the Supreme Court, state law provides a more textually plausiblemeanstolimitpunishmentofunprotectedspeech. CONCLUSION chool officials have no easy task in managing student be S havior. Unlike federal judges, public school teachers and ad ministratorscontinuouslydevelopandimplementdisciplinary practices as an essential part of their profession. In First Amendmentactions,theSupremeCourthaswiselydeferredto school officials expertise to regulate the educational environ ment.Courtsshouldnotunderminethisdeferencebyconstru ing the First Amendment to require an unnecessary and un precedented level of scrutiny of school officials decisions to punishunprotectedspeech. amesF.Ianelli J

Hayes,739So.2d301(La.Ct.App.1999)(vacatingmandatorylifesentenceunder states cruel or unusual punishment clause); People v. Bullock, 485 N.W.2d 866, 872,876(Mich.1992)(invalidatingmandatorylifesentenceunderMichiganCon stitutionsbanoncruelorunusualpunishmentseventhoughtheSupremeCourt upheldthissameprovision).