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Judicial Precedents in the Educational Law


Judicial precedent is one of the most important sources of U.S. law. This institution can perform both regulatory and rulemaking activities. This does not mean that judicial precedent creates law or rules, but through it, a particular case or decision emerges that becomes the benchmark in other similar cases. In the history of U.S. law enforcement, there have been many precedents related to the educational process and the regulation of schooling. It is also necessary to analyze several relevant examples to understand precisely how a judicial incident affects the educational process and the relationship between the school and the students.

First of all, it is necessary to identify precisely how judicial precedent affects spheres of society and education in particular. Judicial precedent as a source of law is characterized by the fact that it is concrete in content, as close as possible to the actual situation (Oshitokunbo, 2020). This is because its elaboration is based on solving concrete cases, single cases (Oshitokunbo, 2020). Recognition of a precedent as a source of law means that a court recognizes the lawmaking function. At the same time, the court does not “create” a precedent and does not invent one (Strang, 2019). With their help, the court can formalize already factual norms that have developed in a particular society. The court creates a precedent in the absence of relevant laws and the case of their presence (Grover, 2020). Precedents are not set by all courts but only through the highest courts (Grover, 2020).

Therefore, it makes sense to refer specifically to Supreme Court decisions as examples. It should be noted that the application of judicial precedent as the primary source of law requires a high legal culture and a developed legal consciousness both on the part of representatives of the judiciary and society as a whole (Oshitokunbo, 2020). Democratic traditions, perfect systems of information, and social control are also necessary.

What about the relationship between precedent and education, the school is a building that performs a range of tasks. On this basis, the number of situations that need to be resolved by the court increases (Dart & Radley, 2019). Such questions can concern both the relationship between teachers and students and some fundamental issues, such as the role of the school in a child’s life. The U.S. litigates nearly the most significant number of educational causes in the world (Dart & Radley, 2019). And it is both practical and constructive for the educational process because it protects the rights of all school stakeholders and deals with controversial subjects such as religion, privacy, and control. It is vital to analyze some examples of precedent-setting in school matters.

Mahanoy area School District v. B. L., A Minor, By and through her father, Levy, et Al.

This lawsuit and its outcome determined that the school had no right to restrict a student’s off-campus expression of will in any way. The fact is that the school does not serve as a parent, and the student speech that the school attempted to control is all-day speech, not selective (Syllabus, 2021). While public schools may have a particular interest in regulating some off-campus student speech, the school’s claim is not sufficient to limit students’ off-campus free will (Syllabus, 2021). In other words, the school has the right to control the personal expression of any students only on the terror of the institution. Thus, the judicial precedent has limited the influence of schools on students.

Joseph A. Kennedy v. Bremerton School District

In a multi-ethnic and secular state, a factor such as a multi-confessional society is always relevant. And this issue is appropriate for schools as well. It should be understood that the religion of the pupil or student – is his business, which is forbidden to propagandize and impose (Statement of ALITO, J., 2019). The court considered the same issue regarding the dismissal of a school teacher who preached to students. Although free speech is a fundamental principle of society, it must be understood that prayers or appeals to God must be made by the individual in private, without interaction with others (Statement of ALITO, J., 2019). It follows from this judicial precedent that publicly preaching to students and talking to them about religion is tantamount to imposing one’s denomination.

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (pending)

As far as this court precedent is concerned, it is a case involving teacher pay. The Court decided to hear this case in June and will hear oral arguments this semester. Friedrichs is challenging First Amendment public union practices (SCOTUSblog, 2021). The Court will determine whether the First Amendment violates the requirement that teachers pay for union activities that are not explicitly political speech. Although the Court has previously found such dues constitutional, some commentators believe that the Roberts Court may want to overturn this precedent (SCOTUSblog, 2021). If the Court decides that such a scheme is permissible, it will also have to decide whether an opt-out system for political activity is constitutional.


Based on the preceding, the following conclusions can be drawn. Firstly, the Supreme Court creates a judicial precedent, which makes unanimous decisions in various cases. Secondly, this factor allows the government and the public to regulate all subsequent cases by reference to and based on precedent. Thus, judicial precedent performs a norm-creative activity, both creating and predetermining future norms for society and preventing similar situations.


Dart, E. H., Radley, K. C. (2019). Handbook of behavioral interventions in schools. Multi-tiered systems of support. Oxford University Press.

Grover, S. C. (2020). Judicial activism and the democratic rule of law. Selected case studies. Springer International Publishing.

Oshitokunbo, O. (2020). An almanac of contemporary judicial restatements (Administration of justice and Evidence) vol. ia. Almanac Foundation.

Strang, L., J. (2019). Originalism’s promise. A natural law account of the American Constitution. Cambridge University Press.

SCOTUSblog. (2021). Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. Web.

Statement of ALITO, J. No. 18-12 (2019). Web.

Syllabus, No. 20-255. (2021). Web.

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