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Constitutional Law

  • There is some confusion on campus about your constitutional rights as a student.  First, you have certain rights of free speech under the First Amendment but University policy can clarify and regulate that.  See the Revised Freedom of Expression, Policy 3.63.  Many people, including students, are not aware that “fighting words” and hate speech are not generally protected by the First Amendment, with the result that they can be properly regulated.  Constitutional law is a continuing development under cases decided by the state and U.S. Supreme Courts, with the “fighting words” exception to free speech beginning with cases in 1942.


  • Also, you have certain rights to unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment but again, University policy can clarify and regulate that.  For example, searches of dorm rooms without a warrant are upheld by the courts, depending on the facts.  The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled on a school Fourth Amendment case in Kennedy v. Dexter Consolidated Schools (2000).  A Dexter High School student reported her diamond ring missing and school officials conducted strip searches of several students in the girl’s class.  The Court ruled that this was a Fourth Amendment violation because of the nature of the strip searches in the bathroom and that the suspicion was excessive in scope.  The group was too large for each of its members to be individually suspect.


  • Certain constitutional rights can protect you from a wrongful conviction as a motorist.  This article I posted gives one example: Rocket Launchers and Dead Bodies.