Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser Page 17

Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser general information

Media for Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 03, 1986 in Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser

William A. Coats:

Mr. Fraser testified that it was available to him.

Now, we can't force him to read it.

But the board of directors sets out its rules.

Thurgood Marshall:

They were passed out to the students?

William A. Coats:

It's available in the school for students to take.

Thurgood Marshall:

I know also that a $2 million portrait is also available to me if I put up $2 million for it.

Was it given to the students?

William A. Coats:

Mr. Justice Marshall, I don't--

Thurgood Marshall:

Yes or no?

William A. Coats:

--It was available to the students in the office, where they could pick it up without cost and where it was available to them.

Now, I cannot say it was passed out in class.

Thurgood Marshall:

But you had to go to the office to get it?

William A. Coats:

You would have to go to the office to get it, is my understanding.

It was clearly available, however.

We don't pass out, for example, criminal justice statutes either, but they are available.

I suggest to you that even the argument that the teachers should somehow be able to waive... even if the teacher said the speech was all right, they shouldn't be able to waive and undo the board of directors' own rule.

Now, in looking at the rule, I would point out that, in the area of vagueness and overbreadth, that outside of the criminal justice area this Court has recognized a much broader standard.

For example, in the case of Arnett versus Kennedy, this Court held that a standard of efficiency of the service is a basis for firing an individual.

In almost every labor contract throughout these United States, the standard for disciplining employees is cause or just cause.

In addition, in the State of Washington the standard for firing teachers is sufficient cause, without any further elaboration.

These rules do not have to meet the same specificity requirement as criminal statutes.

Furthermore, it would be totally impractical, impractical for two reasons--

John Paul Stevens:

What is a teacher gave this speech at an assembly like this?

Could he be fired under the sufficient cause rule?

William A. Coats:

--Your Honor, I think if a teacher gave that speech at a school assembly, it would be a proper basis for disciplining that teacher and it would be--

John Paul Stevens:

Could he be discharged under the sufficient cause rule, do you think?

William A. Coats:

--I would have some question of whether, if it was a first offense and there was no prior offense, whether we would--

John Paul Stevens:

Assume it was a first offense and he just thought it would be a bright idea and a real clever speech.

William A. Coats:

--The reason why it's difficult for me to respond yes or no is that it is a sufficient cause standard.

I have no doubt there'd be a basis for discipline.