RESPONDENT: State Board of Education of Tennessee
LOCATION: Vale Residence
DOCKET NO.: 731
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1969-1970)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
CITATION: 397 US 31 (1970)
ARGUED: Jan 19, 1970 / Jan 20, 1970
DECIDED: Feb 24, 1970
Facts of the case
Media for Jones v. State Board of Education of TennesseeAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 19, 1970 (Part 1) in Jones v. State Board of Education of Tennessee
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 20, 1970 (Part 2) in Jones v. State Board of Education of Tennessee
Warren E. Burger:
The state board of education, where we left off yesterday afternoon.
Robert H. Roberts:
Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.
I will conclude argument for the respondents in this manner.
I would like to call the Court's attention to an article written by Professor Charles Allen Wright in connection with speech to be delivered on Vanderbilt University campus on October 1969 entitled “The Constitution on the Campus.”
This is one of the Oliver Womble Holm series and I think that it is one of the best written articles I have ever read and I recommend it to the Court if they haven't already seen it.
In it though, Professor Wright basically wound up by saying that expression can be restrictive, if at any time, if material substantially interferes with a normal procedures of the university or with the wraps of other.
Now, it is our contention that the basic issue involved here is just the action that this student has been accused and found guilty of committing based primarily under his First Amendment rights.
John M. Harlan II:
There were additional findings of the violation for regulations?
Robert H. Roberts:
Yes, Your Honor.
There was a finding that he had committed a misdemeanor and found guilty in court in violation of the student handbook which had been a specific charge against him in addition.
They also found that he lied to the committee while before ti and openly before it and I might say this, it is not only just, he just told the president of the effect that he was lying in front of this outstanding faculty group and other students and even the press was present when this happened which compounded the disrespect that he showed to president on this occasion.
Yesterday, I had the feeling that there was some question in the mind of perhaps Associate Justice Marshall in regard to why this action on the leafleting or the boycott literature didn't result in any kind of a serious incident.
I didn't called the Court's attention to this but I would like to do it this time.
Mr. Jones at the time that he passed out this leaflet had already been temporarily suspended from school.
He was not on the campus at that time as a student.
When he passed out this literature he was awaiting his hearing to see whether or not he would be admitted in the full term or not.
This literature was passed out on August 18, 1967 which according to the calendar which you have in the appendix in the student handbook part of it which begins on page 175 of the joint appendix, a calendar of the school.
Here, you'll find that this was the last day of final examinations for the last term of the summer quarter.
When he did this, the baccalaureate services follow that by two days and school was out then until the following term started.
That is the reason there was no more commotion following it.
However, I direct your attention to the fact that this was followed -- itself following by just a couple of weeks or so, arrived on the campus and tensions were high.
Now admittedly, the faculty hasn't in it's findings written out that as a result of this literature been passed out on the final examination day that John Smith came to him and said, “Well, that bothers me and I couldn't correctly answer one of the questions on the examination” or anything like that, but they found it as a matter of their interpretation.
They were there on the campus.
We're not talking about some rural constable or something like that that might be found in my home county of Pickett.
We're talking about nine of the outstanding members of the faculty on Tennessee State University's campus.
We're talking about the vice president Maritus (ph), who was the Chairman of the Faculty Advisory Committee with 30 some years of experience there as a school administrator.
We are talking about Dr. J.A. Payne who acted because of Dr. Boswell's poor health as the presiding officer over this faculty advisory meeting with the great many years of experience on the campus and as being the students.
We're talking about the dean of women and the dean of men.
School administrators, practically all if not all of them hold doctorate degrees and had the combined experience of well and in excess of 100 years there on the campus, that's who we're talking about, substituting the judgment on as to what --