Book examines attacks on student rights

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A new book, The Silencing of Student Voices: Preserving Free Speech in America’s Schools, exploring the state of First Amendment rights of students in contemporary society, is available from the First Amendment Center.

The Silencing of Student Voices, by First Amendment Center research attorney David L. Hudson Jr., examines issues including “zero-tolerance” policies and harsh penalties for dress, language or remarks deemed unacceptable; conflicts over material on students’ personal Web sites, and collisions between students’ artistic expression and administrators’ safety concerns.

The book is available for $9.95. To order, call 800/830-3733 or send an e-mail to Please indicate that you wish to order item number 03-F16 and be sure to include your postal mailing address and phone number. See downloadable PDFs of book.

The book reminds all Americans that young citizens have constitutional rights that must be protected, and also that respect for First Amendment rights by school administrators, teachers and parents helps foster better student understanding of democracy and a citizen’s role in a free society.

The book provides information and analysis about contemporary court cases concerning a variety of student First Amendment issues. It details “the rise and fall of student rights” beginning with a 1925 Supreme Court decision extending the protection of individuals’ free-speech rights to cover state as well as federal action.

Hudson identifies the Internet as “the primary First Amendment battleground in the 21st century” over student expression: “The difficulty is how to balance the competing interests of protecting minors and preserving free speech.” The book also examines teachers’ First Amendment rights, stating that student and educator rights are intertwined: “If teachers do not feel that they can speak freely … the learning process is harmed.”

David Hudson is a research attorney for the First Amendment Center, writing for this Web site, the First Amendment Center Online, and a First Amendment contributing editor for the American Bar Association’s Preview of United States Supreme Court Cases. His articles also have been published in The National Law Journal, the ABA Journal and the Tennessee Bar Journal. Hudson also has written books for young people on the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment.

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Media contact: Gene Policinski, 615/727-1303 or

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