SPLC’s LoMonte: For Schools, “One Inch Away From Being Unconstitutional” Isn’t Good Enough

May 13, 2011

Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, makes a great point in an op-ed published in The Courier-Journal (Lexington, Ky.) yesterday. The article concerns a high school newspaper case, but Frank’s argument is deeply relevant to higher education as well. Frank writes:

I like a good legal argument as much as the next lawyer, but if we are arguing about whether Principal Wooldridge actually violated the First Amendment or just came close, we are arguing about the wrong thing. In formulating education policy, the proper question should never be: "Can the school get away with this?"

A school that is governed by the standard of "what’s the worst thing we can do to our students without violating the law" is a profoundly sick school. No school should aspire, in any of its services, to a standard of "one inch away from being unconstitutional." [Emphasis added.]

Check out the full article here.