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    When Constitutional Law Meets Flash Mobs A Practical Method to Inform

    Juveniles about First Amendment Rights and Limitations


  • Course Summary

    Social media networks and mobile tech devices have made it easier for juveniles to exercise their rights of assembly and free speech. But what exactly are these rights and what are the limitations? This course explores how members of the legal community can effectively convey to juveniles some of the most important principles of a civil society while encouraging them to critically think about their responsibilities as members of such society. Course Planner: Honorable John M. Younge Faculty: Honorable Genece Brinkley Renee F. Bergmann, Esq. Elvin P. Ross, III, Esq. David K. Trevaskis, Esq.


  • WHEN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW MEETS FLASH MOBS A Practical Method to Inform Juveniles about First Amendment Rights and Limitations

    Friday, October 5, 2012

    2:00 2:05 p.m. Introduction and Objectives (Elvin Ross)

    Socializing with digital technology (social media networks and mobile tech devices)

    Conveying substantive information to juveniles

    Impacting juveniles knowledge base with regard to core constitutional principles, methods of dispute resolution, and the responsibilities of citizenship

    2:05 - 2:30 p.m Overview and Discussion of the First Amendment (Renee Bergmann & David Trevaskis)

    What does the First Amendment provide?

    What are some cases that have most informed our understanding of free speech and assembly rights?

    o Schenk v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919)

    o Tinker v. Des Moines, 393 U.S. 503 (1969)

    o Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969)

    2:30 2:55 p.m. Modeling the Lesson (Hon. Genece Brinkley)

    Pre-Lesson Preparation

    Classroom Management

    Framing Question

    Classroom Activities

    o Flash mobs

    o Cyber bullying

    o Mass protests

    Post-Lesson Evaluation

    2:55 3:00 p.m. Closing Remarks (Elvin Ross)


  • 122

  • FLASH MOBS: The Rights of Assembly and FREE Speech


  • 124

  • Advancing Civics Education High School Curriculum Alternative Lessons


    Are there limits to Constitutional Rights? What channels of power are most effective to create change?


    Attached handouts, including: copy of first amendment, case blurbs, flash mob scenario, and role cards.

    OPENING ACTIVITY: (5 minutes)

    1. Ask students to read the First Amendment silently, and to jot down some ideas about why the protections of individual rights exist. 2. Discuss briefly as a class why it was important for the framers to be able to assemble and speak their minds. (i.e. marketplace of ideas notion).

    CLASS ACTIVITY: (40 minutes)

    1. Ask volunteers to read aloud the flash mob scenario. 2. Break into four groups. Hand out the sheet describing the role of each group. (Legal team should circulate to clarify/answer any questions) 3. With a legal team member as moderator, each group should answer the questions within their group, taking notes about the best course of action and arguments to make.

    CLOSING ACTIVITY: (5-10 minutes)

    1. Every student should pair off with another student from a different group and explain why their group decided to approach the situation in the way they did. Pretend you are arguing for your groups position, and try to explain the consequences of doing things another way. 2. As an entire class, debrief regarding the limits of free speech and assembly. When do many peoples rights outweigh one persons rights? What strategies can a student use to avoid being at the wrong place at the wrong time, and avoid the mob mentality?

    ENRICHMENT ACTIVITY: Extended class periods or homework:

    -Ask students to write down five alternatives to violence/ways to make change that do not involve threats, intimidation, or physical harm to others. -Think about the early lesson No Vehicles in the Park. How do courts step in to apply the law in a way that meets with the statutory intent but still maintain the spirit of the law? In the case of the first amendment, how should Courts help apply the law in such a way that it covers just enough activity, and not too much?


    High School P

    LLLeeessssssooonnn::: FFFLLLAAASSSHHH MMMOOOBBBSSS::: TTThhheee RRRiiiggghhhtttsss ooofff aaasssssseeemmmbbblllyyy aaannnddd FFFRRREEEEEE SSSpppeeeeeeccchhh Page 1 of 5 Lesson at a Glance



    Schenk v. United States: Mr. Schenk was the Secretary of the Socialist Party of America during World War I, and he wanted people to oppose the draft. He made pamphlets saying that the draft was involuntary servitude (like slavery, which is prohibited by the 13th amendment). Schenk was convicted of violating the Espionage Act of 1917. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote a unanimous opinion of the Supreme Court as follows:

    The conviction was upheld. Encouraging insubordination can be a crime under the Constitution.

    The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.

    Test is whether the words/circumstances create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the harms laws want to prevent.

    Wartime allows greater restrictions on free speech than peacetime. Perhaps the ends justify the means?

    Tinker v. Des Moines: Students wore armbands to school to protest the Vietnam War. The school district suspended the students until they agreed to remove the armbands. On appeal, the Supreme Court ruled:

    Students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gates. More than discomfort is needed to justify limiting students right to free speech Test: schools can restrict conduct that materially and substantially interferes with the

    discipline or normal operation of the school.

    Brandenburg v. Ohio: A Ku Klux Klan leader invited a TV station to a rally, where racial hatred was expressed. The KKK group called for revengeance and used ethnic slurs. The leader was convicted for violating an Ohio law against syndicalism. The Court reversed the Conviction:

    Government cannot punish abstractly advocating force or illegal acts. Speech is protected unless it encourages "imminent lawless action."

    NOTE: The KKK and groups that promote hatred of others are usually allowed to assemble but often must go through a complex process to get a permit in order to do so. Do we allow only speech that we like?

    High School P

    LLLeeessssssooonnn::: FFFLLLAAASSSHHH MMMOOOBBBSSS::: TTThhheee RRRiiiggghhhtttsss ooofff aaasssssseeemmmbbblllyyy aaannnddd FFFRRREEEEEE SSSpppeeeeeeccchhh Page 2 of 5 Amendment/Case Handout


    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


  • Advancing Civics Education High School Curriculum Alternative Lessons

    BACKGROUND: Recently, at East Thrilladelphia High School, there has been a lot of tension and unrest. This year, the boundaries for the neighborhoods that send students to the school have changed. Some of the student groups have been fighting over whether the new students from the Nayborhood section of the city should be allowed to come to their school. The Student Council, led by a very responsible student named Terry Peaceful, wants a safer, more organized school environment. They believe in promoting learning. Terry and her followers want the new students to go somewhere else so that the building is not so full, the cafeteria is not so crowded, and the class size is smaller. The leader of the Nayborhood students, Pat Gimmespace, is angry that the friends from her/his neighborhood are not being welcomed into the school. Pat feels they have as much right to be there as anybody, and in fact, they live closer to the school than many of the kids on the student council who want Nayborhood kids to leave. Pat is an A student, and is sick of being treated like a second class citizen of the school. The principal of East Thrilladelphia is Angel Orderly. She allows students to gather at campus facilities for authorized student groups as long as the student group asks for permission in advance. School policy does not allow destroying property or physically hurting students, teachers, or administrators. A FLASH MOB ERUPTS: On Monday, Pat Gimmespace sent texts to all the Nayboorhood students and put up a notice on FaceBook that there would be a meeting in the schoolyard on Friday after school. Pat and some friends made signs that say WE BELONG and IMPROVE YOUR NAYBORHOOD. One of Pats friends made a sign that says THE THRILL IS OVER. MOVE OVER OR GET RUN OVER. Other signs said TREAT RIGHT OR GOODNIGHT. The message about the gathering got out to everybody, and over 75 students from all different groups showed up on Friday. The chanting got louder, and turned to pushing. Pat was caught up in the excitement of leadership and shoved another student. Big fights broke out, and school property was destroyed. Some students were suspended, and others were arrested. Any student who was present at the flash mob got at least a 3 week detention during which they were to work on repa