GOLDBERG, Circuit Judge:
It should have come as a shock to the parents of five high school seniors in the Northeast Independent School District of San Antonio, Texas, that their elected school board had assumed suzerainty over their children before and after school, off school grounds, and with regard to their children's rights of expressing their thoughts. We trust that it will come as no shock whatsoever to the school board that their assumption of authority is an unconstitutional usurpation of the First Amendment.
Appellants, Mark S. Shanley, Clyde A. Coe, Jr., William E. Jolly, John A. Alford, and John Graham, were seniors at MacArthur High School in the Northeast Independent School District of San Antonio. At least they were students there save for a period of three days during which they were suspended for violating a school board "policy." Each of the students here was considered a "good" or "excellent" student. All were in the process of applying for highly competitive slots in colleges or for scholarships. The three days of zeros that resulted from the suspensions substantially affected their grade averages at a critical time of their educational careers.
The occasion of the suspension was the publication and distribution of a so-called "underground" newspaper entitled "Awakening." The newspaper was authored entirely by the students, during out-of-school hours, and without using any materials or facilities owned or operated by the school system. The students distributed the papers themselves during one afternoon after school hours and one morning before school hours. At all times distribution was carried on near but outside the school premises on the sidewalk of an adjoining street, separated from the school by a parking lot. The students neither distributed nor encouraged any distribution of the papers during school hours or on school property, although some of the newspapers did turn up there. There was absolutely no disruption of class that resulted from distribution of the newspaper, nor were there any disturbances whatsoever attributable to the distribution. It was acknowledged by all concerned with this case that the students who passed out the newspapers did so politely and in orderly fashion.
The "Awakening" contains absolutely no material that could remotely be considered libelous, obscene, or inflammatory. In fact, the content of this so-called "underground" paper is such that it could easily surface, flower-like, from its "underground" abode. As so-called "underground" newspapers go, this is probably one of the most vanilla-flavored ever to reach a federal court.
The five students were suspended by the principal for violation of school board "policy" 5114.2 which reads in pertinent part:
Northeast Independent School District "policy" 5114.2 at 2-3, adopted November 20, 1969 [emphasis added].
The school board affirmed the suspensions one day later.
Objecting to the school board's bootstrap transmogrification into Super-Parent, the parents of the five affected students sought both temporary and permanent injunctive relief as next-friends in the federal courts, requesting that the
That courts should not interfere with the day-to-day operations of schools is a platitudinous but eminently sound maxim which this court has reaffirmed on many occasions. See e. g., Burnside v. Byars, 5 Cir. 1966, 363 F.2d 744; Blackwell v. Issaquena County Board of Education, supra; Ferrell v. Dallas Independent School District, 5 Cir. 1968, 392 F.2d 697, cert. denied, 393 U.S. 856, 89 S.Ct. 98, 21 L.Ed.2d 125; Karr v. Schmidt, 5 Cir. 1972 (en banc), 451 F.2d 1023. This court laid to rest more than a decade ago the notion that state authorities could subject students at public-supported educational institutions to whatever conditions the state wished. Dixon v. Alabama State Board of Education, 5 Cir. 1961, 294 F.2d 150, cert. denied, 368 U.S. 930, 82 S.Ct. 368, 7 L.Ed.2d 193. And of paramount importance is the constitutional imperative that school boards abide constitutional precepts:
West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 1943, 319 U.S. 624, 637, 63 S.Ct. 1178, 1185, 87 L.Ed. 1628, 1637. The school board insists that "policy" 5114.2 is constitutional both "on its face" and "as applied" to the suspensions meted out under the circumstances of this case.
This case is anomalous in several respects, a sort of judicial believe-it-or-not. Essentially, the school board has submitted a constitutional fossil, exhumed and respired to stalk the First Amendment once again long after its substance had been laid to rest. Counsel for the school board insists vigorously that education is constitutionally embraced solely by the Tenth Amendment, leaving education entirely without the protective perimeters of the rest of the Constitution. We find this a rather quaint approach to the constitutional setting of education in light of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, supra; Tinker v. Des Moines Independent
While a school is certainly a market-place for ideas, it is just as certainly not a market place. The educational process is thwarted by the milling, mooing, and haranguing, along with the aggressiveness that often accompanies a constitutionally-protected exchange of ideas on the street corner. There is, of course, a substantive difference between schools and the street corner in terms of weighing the sometimes competing interests of a completely free flow of any and all expression with the requirement that there be order and discipline. Thus, this court has endeavored to give "careful recognition to the differences between what are reasonable restraints in the classroom and what are reasonable restraints on the street corner." Ferrell v. Dallas Independent School Dist., 392 F.2d at 704-705 (Godbold, J., specially concurring). Because high school students and teachers cannot easily disassociate themselves from expressions directed towards them on school property
There is nothing unconstitutional per se in a requirement that students submit materials to the school administration prior to distribution. See Eisner v. Stamford Board of Education, supra. Given the necessity for discipline and orderly processes in the high schools, it is not at all unreasonable to require that materials destined for distribution to students be submitted to the school administration prior to distribution. As long as the regulation for prior approval does not operate to stifle the content of any student publication in an unconstitutional manner and is not unreasonably complex or onerous, the requirement of prior approval would more closely approximate simply a regulation of speech and not a prior restraint. Nor is there anything unconstitutional per se in a reasonable administrative ordering of the time, place, and manner of distributing materials on school premises and during school hours:
Burnside v. Byars, 363 F.2d at 748-749 [emphasis added], cited with approval in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, supra.
When the constitutionality of a school regulation is questioned, it is settled law that the burden of justifying the regulation falls upon the school board. Tinker v. Des Moines School District, supra; Burnside v. Byars, supra; Scoville v. Board of Education of Joliet Twp., supra.
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School Dist., 393 U.S. at 514, 89 S.Ct. at 740, 21 L.Ed.2d at 742.
Under the First Amendment and its decisional explication, we conclude that: (1) expression by high school students can be prohibited altogether if it materially and substantially interferes with school activities or with the rights of other students or teachers, or if the school administration can demonstrate reasonable cause to believe that the expression would engender such material and substantial interference; (2) expression by high school students cannot be prohibited solely because other students, teachers, administrators, or parents may disagree with its content; (3) efforts at expression by high school students may be subjected to prior screening under clear and reasonable regulations; and (4) expression by high school students may be limited in manner, place, or time by means of reasonable and equally-applied regulations.
When the Burnside/Tinker standards are applied to this case, it is beyond serious question that the activity punished here does not even approach the "material and substantial" disruption that must accompany an exercise of expression, either in fact or in reasonable forecast. As a factual matter there were no disruptions of class; there were no disturbances of any sort, on or off campus, related to the distribution of the "Awakening." See Shanley v. Northeast Independent School Dist., W.D.Tex.1972, Case No. SA-72-CA-48 [February 2, 1972]. Disruption in fact is an important element for evaluating the reasonableness of a regulation screening or punishing student expression. In a companion case to Burnside, this court held that conduct presumptively-protected in Burnside itself was not protected by the First Amendment when it was accompanied by disorderly and raucous distribution. Blackwell v. Issaquena County Board of Education, supra. One week after Tinker the Supreme Court denied certiorari in a case that had involved rather violent and disruptive activity by some college students. The district court found that the students had exceeded their constitutional privileges of free expression, Barker v. Hardway, S.D. W.Va.1968, 283 F.Supp. 228, affirmed, Barker v. Hardway, 4 Cir. 1968, 399 F.2d 638. In the Supreme Court's denial of review, Mr. Justice Fortas, who wrote for the majority in Tinker, observed in concurrence that "the petitioners . . engaged in an aggressive and violent demonstration, and not in peaceful non-disruptive expression," Barker v. Hardway, 1969, 394 U.S. 905, 89 S.Ct. 1009, 22 L.Ed.2d 217.
The "reasonable forecast" of disruption that might result from the exercise of expression is a more difficult standard to apply. It is not necessary that the school administration stay a reasonable exercise of restraint "until disruption actually occur[s]." Butts v. Dallas Independent School Dist., 5 Cir. 1971, 436 F.2d 728, 731. Accord Norton v. Discipline Committee of East Tennessee State University, 6 Cir. 1969, 419 F.2d 195, cert. denied, 399 U.S. 906, 90 S.Ct. 2191, 26 L.Ed.2d 562; Quarterman v. Byrd, 4 Cir. 1971, 453 F.2d 54. Nor does the Constitution require a specific rule regarding every permutation of student conduct before a school administration may act reasonably to prevent disruption.
Terminiello v. Chicago, 1949, 337 U.S. 1, 4, 69 S.Ct. 894, 895, 93 L.Ed. 1131, 1134-1135; see also Brooks v. Auburn Univ.,
One of the great concerns of our time is that our young people, disillusioned by our political processes, are disengaging from political participation. It is most important that our young become convinced that our Constitution is a living reality, not parchment preserved under glass.
West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. at 637, 63 S.Ct. at 1185, 87 L.Ed. at 1637. It is incredible to us that in 1972 the First Amendment was deemed inapplicable under these circumstances to high school students living at the threshold of voting and dying for their country.
We have discussed potential disturbance a great deal, for in substance that is what school discipline is designed to prevent. However, we must emphasize in the context of this case that even reasonably forecast disruption is not per se justification for prior restraint or subsequent punishment of expression afforded to students by the First Amendment:
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School Dist., 393 U.S. at 508-509, 89 S.Ct. at 737, 21 L.Ed.2d at 739.
Terminiello v. Chicago, 337 U.S. at 4, 69 S.Ct. at 896, 93 L.Ed. at 1135; see also Shelton v. Tucker, 1960, 364 U.S. 479, 81 S.Ct. 247, 5 L.Ed.2d 231. If the content of a student's expression could give rise
We realize that each situation involving expression and discipline will create its own problems of reasonableness, and for that reason we do not endeavor here to erect any immovable rules, but only to sketch guidelines. We emphasize, however, that there must be demonstrable factors that would give rise to any reasonable forecast by the school administration of "substantial and material" disruption of school activities before expression may be constitutionally restrained. While this court has great respect for the intuitive abilities of administrators, such paramount freedoms as speech and expression cannot be stifled on the sole ground of intuition. Thus, while we do not wholly disparage the comment of the MacArthur High School assistant principal in this case that the "attitude" of the school could somehow have changed during the minicrisis that was assertedly engendered by the appearance of the "Awakening," we feel certain that the school administration can appreciate the fact that we must viewpoint unless it is substantiated by some objective evidence to support a reasonable "forecast" of disruption or by actual disruption. There is simply no demonstable evidence whatsoever that the circumstances surrounding the distribution of the "Awakening" amounted to or could reasonably have been forecast to amount to a "material and substantial" disruption of school activity or discipline.
Although the students urge the argument, we do not feel it necessary to hold that any attempt by a school district to regulate conduct that takes place off the school ground and outside school hours can never pass constitutional muster. See Wright, The Constitution on Campus, 22 Vand.L.Rev. 1027. This court has evaluated situations involving off-campus activity and has required a fair hearing in such instances, Dixon v. Alabama State Board of Education, supra, but we have never had occasion to discuss the contitutional propriety of applying a school regulation directly to off-campus conduct. See Sullivan v. Houston Independent School Dist., supra. We do note, however, that it is not at all unusual to allow the geographical location of the actor to determine the constitutional protection that should be afforded to his or her acts. For example, the now-proverbial "fire" might be constitutionally yelled on the street corner, but not within the theater; or a march down the middle of a street might be protected activity, while a march down the hallway of a building might not. By the same token, it is not at all unusual in our system that different authorities have responsibility only for their own bailiwicks. An offense against one authority that it perpetrated within the jurisdiction of another authority is usually punishable only by the authority in whose jurisdiction the offense took place. Thus, contrary to the district court's opinion, the width of a street might very well determine the breadth of the school board's authority. Students, as any other citizens, are subject to the civil and criminal laws of the community, state, and nation. A student acting entirely outside school property is potentially subject to the laws of disturbing the peace, inciting to riot, littering, and so forth, whether or not he is potentially subject to a school regulation that the school board wishes to extend to off-campus activity. In our case the distribution of
However, under the circumstances of this case and this appeal, we are compelled to proceed further with "policy" 5114.2. Recognizing the close distinction between "unconstitutional as applied" and "facially unconstitutional as overbroad," we are nevertheless compelled to declare the regulation in question facially unconstitutional as both overbroad and vague, and also as a denial of procedural due process. We do so with great hesitation and regret. But we do so in the interests of the sound judicial administration of this case and of those cases that might reasonably arise under the "policy" in question. In this case, in fact, the school board does not base its primary arguments on appeal upon potential or actual disruption of school activities. Rather, the board chooses to assert that the suspensions of these five students are valid simply because the students allegedly violated "policy" 5114.2. Especially if the regulation is the sole rationale for punishment, the regulation must have a rationale constitutionally sufficient on its face. See Eisner v. Stamford Board of Education, supra.
Counsel for the school board argues on appeal that the regulation should be upheld facially because it could be interpreted in a reasonable manner. Counsel then proceeds to advocate a school board interpretation that is thoroughly unreasonable. Passing over the fact that the school board in this appeal has relied to a remarkable degree upon the conditional verb "could," we simply note that it is the school board's own actions that demonstrate most convincingly that the regulation is both overbroad and vague, and, therefore, constitutionally infirm on its face. Put another way, it is the school board's response to the circumstances involved in the distribution of the "Awakening" that has convinced us that counsel for the students is correct in urging that a facial approach to "policy" 5114.2 is required of this court.
We conclude that the regulation is overbroad: (1) because it purports to establish a prior restraint on any and all exercise of expression by means of the written word on the part of high school students at any time and in any place and for any reason; and (2) because it contains no standards whatsoever by which principals might guide their administrative screenings of "petitions or printed documents of any kind, sort, or type."
Eisner v. Stamford Board of Education, 440 F.2d at 808 [emphasis in text]. If there were some limiting language in the "policy," we would be very much inclined to pretermit this holding. Unfortunately there is no such limitation, and the school board's action here has confirmed our worst fears regarding the variations of interpretation that could pervert the regulation. When questioned at the school board hearing regarding the scope of the "policy," the assistant principal of MacArthur High School responded:
At the district court hearing the school superintendent generally agreed with this assessment of the scope of the policy. We repeat that we do not derogate the "good judgment of the school administrator" in any way whatsoever. But the Constitution can be no more loosely interpreted because the motivations behind its infringement may be benign. Because that part of "policy" 5114.2 that deals with the publication and distribution of materials, by its terms and by the announced administrative interpretations accorded it, sweeps protected activity wholly outside the school context along with proscribed activity, the "policy" is facially overbroad and unconstitutional to that extent. See Zwickler v. Koota, 1967, 389 U.S. 241, 88 S.Ct. 391, 19 L.Ed.2d 444; Hobbs v. Thompson, 5 Cir. 1971, 448 F.2d 456; see also NAACP v. Button, 1963, 371 U.S. 415, 83 S.Ct. 328, 9 L.Ed.2d 405.
The "policy" is also facially overbroad because there are no standards whatsoever by which a principal may accept or reject a student publication or distribution. It appears that some petitions or documents of a political nature, regarding a pending school bond election, were distributed at MacArthur High School with the blessing and even the encouragement of the administration and the school board. We have absolutely no way of discerning on what basis those documents were accepted while the "Awakening" was not, or why a student may pass around the "San Antonio Light," which might have a number of informational or advocative stories on marijuana laws or on birth control, or on any other "controversial" subject, but not the "Awakening." We do not doubt in any manner the existing and continuing good faith of the school administration and the school board in attempting
In addition, we must conclude that the regulation in question is unconstitutionally vague because the blanket prohibition against "distributions" or "attempts to distribute" does not reflect any reasonable, constitutional standards of the First Amendment as applied to the orderly administration of high school activities. The language of "policy" 5114.2 regarding what is intended by "distribution" is such that reasonable men not only can differ and have differed, but should differ substantially as to its meaning. See Connally v. General Construction Co., 1926, 269 U.S. 385, 46 S.Ct. 126, 70 L.Ed. 322; see also Baggett v. Bullitt, 1964, 377 U.S. 360, 84 S.Ct. 1316, 12 L.Ed.2d 377. There is no intimation, let alone a requirement, that any proscribed "distribution" must interfere in a material and substantial way with the administration of school activity and discipline. In fact, the assistant principal of MacArthur High School conceded under interrogation at the board hearing that one student handing Time magazine to another student without the permission of the principal was presumptively in violation of "policy" 5114.2, and the school superintendent agreed with that evaluation of the "policy" at the district court hearing. See Eisner v. Stamford Board of Education, supra, for discussion of a very similar vagueness problem. If the school board here can punish students on the strength of this blunderbuss regulation for passing out any printed matter, off school grounds, outside school hours, and without any disruptions whatsoever, then why cannot the school board also punish any student who hands a Bible to another student on a Saturday or Sunday morning, as long as it does so in good faith? We resist the temptation to answer. In order to remedy its vagueness, the policy in question must include guidelines stating the relationship between the prevention or curtailment of "distribution" and the prevention of material and substantial disruption of school activities that the "policy" seeks to remedy.
Finally, we must conclude that the regulation in question is unconstitutional as a matter of due process. There is no provision in "policy" 5114.2, nor, to our knowledge, in any other school regulation, allowing for appeal from the decision of the school principal not to permit distribution and specifying a time period during which the principal or the appellate board must make their decisions. The occasions calling for the exercise of various forms of protected speech are fleeting, and lack of clarity or a delay in implementation of screening regulations carry the inherent danger that the exercise of speech might be chilled altogether during the period of its importance. Imprecision and delay serve only to underscore the fact that the constitutional ideal can be thwarted in petty ways, a frustrating experience in a democracy. Any regulation that proposes
Tinker's dam to school board absolutism does not leave dry the fields of school discipline. This court has gone a considerable distance with the school boards to uphold its disciplinary fiats where reasonable. See, e. g., Blackwell v. Issaquena School Dist., supra; cf. Karr v. Schmidt, supra; Ferrell v. Dallas Independent School Dist., supra. Tinker simply irrigates, rather than floods, the fields of school discipline. It sets canals and channels through which school discipline might flow with the least possible damage to the nation's priceless topsoil of the First Amendment. Perhaps it would be well if those entrusted to administer the teaching of American history and government to our students began their efforts by practicing the document on which that history and government are based. Our eighteen-year-olds can now vote, serve on juries, and be drafted; yet the board fears the "awakening" of their intellects without reasoned concern for its effect upon school discipline. The First Amendment cannot tolerate such intolerance. This case is therefore reversed for entry of an order not inconsistent with this opinion.
CLARK, Circuit Judge (specially concurring):
I concur in all of Judge Goldberg's opinion except that portion of Part II holding that due process requires that school authorities not only provide a prompt administrative decisionmaking process for regulation of student expression, but also that they must create an administrative appellate mechanism as a part of such review process.
Although I agree that if school authorities provide for administrative appeals, such appeals must be prompt in decision and reasonable in procedure, I do not agree that such administrative appeal procedures are constitutionally bound to exist.
"Policies on Disruptive Activities and Unauthorized Publications
In keeping with the policy of this district to maintain, at all times, a proper learning situation, the Board of Trustees hereby establishes what will be known as Policies on Disruptive Activities and Unauthorized Publications.
In addition to the above policies those disruptive activities which are specified and defined in House Bill 141 of the 1969 Session of the Texas Legislature (as shown immediately following this paragraph) shall be cause in this school district for suspension or recommendation for expulsion as appropriate in the judgment of the principal of the school concerned.
PROHIBITING CERTAIN DISRUPTIVE ACTIVITIES IN PRIVATE OR PUBLIC SCHOOLS OR INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION
`Section 1. No person or group of persons acting in concert may willfully engage in disruptive activity or disrupt a lawful assembly on the campus or property of any private or public school or institution of higher education or public vocational and technical school or institute.
`Sec. 2. (a) For the purposes of this act, "Disruptive activity" means:
`(1) obstructing or restraining the passage of persons in an exit, entrance, or hallway or any building without the authorization of the administration of the school;
`(2) seizing control of any building or portion of a building for the purpose of interfering with any administrative, educational, research, or other authorized activity;
`(3) preventing or attempting to prevent by force or violence or the threat of force or violence any lawful assembly authorized by the school administration;
`(4) disrupting by force or violence or the threat of force or violence a lawful assembly in progress; or
`(5) obstructing or restraining the passage of any person at an exit or entrance to said campus or property or preventing or attempting to prevent by force or violence or by threats thereof the ingress or egress of any person to or from said property or campus without the authorization of the administration of the school.
`(b) For the purposes of this Act, a lawful assembly is disrupted when any person in attendance is rendered incapable of participating in the assembly due to the use of force or violence or due to a reasonable fear that force or violence is likely to occur.
`Sec. 3. A person who violates any provision of this Act is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction is punishable by a fine not to exceed $200 or by confinement in jail for not less than 10 days nor more than 6 months, or both.
`Sec. 4. Any person who is convicted the third time of violating this Act shall not thereafter be eligible to attend any school, college, or university receiving funds from the State of Texas for a period of two years from such third conviction.
`Sec. 5. Nothing herein shall be construed to infringe upon any right of free speech or expression guaranteed by the Constitutions of the United States or the State of Texas.'
Students and parents are advised that, in addition to the school administrative procedures, school officials, wherever deemed advisable, will initiate complaints with legal authorities against any person or persons who violate HB 141 or any of its terms."
Shanley v. Northeast Independent School Dist., W.D.Tex.1972, Case No. SA-72-CA-48 [February 2, 1972]. We find this refusal unacceptable in light of the plethora of cases involving school systems. A trial court is sometimes confronted with the prospect of applying laws from a legislative body or a high court that do not fit four-square with its own interpretations. But proper application under those circumstances is, to our understanding, the single most important guiding principle of law and of orderly process well back into our Anglo-Saxon legal heritage.
"An estimated 23 million Americans have smoked marijuana including 43% of all college students. Under the existing laws all of them could go to jail. Smoking marijuana isn't the issue, unjust laws are.
(National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) For information write . . . .
* * * * * *
"For information & treatment of