Sunday, March 8, 2009

Completing the 1st Amendment

Free Press and Assembly

I had an opportunity to collaborate with teachers new to Advanced Placement Politics and Government last week. These were mostly young teachers who had taught government in high school prior to teaching APGOPO, but were pretty new to the AP scene. Several had read this blog and were shocked at my last three entries.

"Too many cases!" was the general comment. I agree! And here is the kicker...a couple of years ago there were almost no cases on the test. I had spent countless hours going over all of these cases and the students came back frustrated that none had appeared on the Exam. Last year, however, cases were all over both parts of the Exam. Who knows?????

Our role is to prepare the students the best we can for the Exam and at the same time give the students a college experience equal to the best 101 Poly Sci taught in the nation. In order to accomplish these goals I have but one thing to say to my young friends, "Case On!"

So, this week let us look at Free Press and Assembly and complete the 1st Amendment discussions. Jefferson once said that give the option of democratic government without a free press or a free press without a government, he would go with the latter. Tough words! Yet from the Zenger Case in colonial America until today, we all rely and trust that our press will speak the truth and be influenced only by their political persuasion, and not that of the government or a governmental agency. It is important we stress to our students that the press in America has always been biased. It is the nature of the American press. But that bias is an editorial decision made by the individual publisher and owner, not by those of whom they are reporting.

So here are some of the important cases I give my students to ponder:
  • Near v. Minnesota...the incorporation case that establishes no prior restraint by states
  • New York Times v. Sullivan...the "absence of malice" case
  • New York Times v. US...the Pentagon Papers could be published regardless of the national security claim by the government
  • Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart...a judges gag order concerning reporting a murder trial is prior restraint and unconstitutional
  • Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier...student newspapers are not covered under 1st Amendment since they are academic assignments
Of these, I spend the most time on Near, the Pentagon Papers, and Kuhlmeier. Now when it comes to Freedom of Assembly, I get through it fairly rapidly. The right is of course essential, however, the cases tend to be a bit obscure and this has never been a big part of an AP question. At any rate, I think you need to review these cases:
  • Dejonge v. Oregon...the incorporation case
  • The Village of Skokie v. National Socialist Party...the Nazi case where the Court said we could not stop an assembly because we hated the message
  • Hague v. CIO...unions had the right to assemble on public property.
I am headed out on Spring Break this week...if you are joining me enjoy the break. We have a great deal to get done when we return. I will be going over the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendment cases in the next couple of weeks. Following that I have a two part discussion on Brown v. BOE planned that couples with the Civil Rights unit.

Just to let my faithful reader know the schedule for this blog for the rest of the school year, I will be continuing to write weekly into June and will be doing a daily blog from the AP reading at Daytona Beach the first week in June. I will take off a little time over the summer, but will start back up in August ready for the fall term. As always, I hope I am giving you some new and fresh ammo to take to the kids. I am always anxious to read any and all comments you might have....until then...

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