Marvin Pickering was a science high school teacher in Will County, Illinois. Pickering was dismissed from his job after he wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper, Lockport Harold. The letter was sarcastically criticizing the way his superintendent and school board raised and spent funds. The superintendent and school board took offense to the comments within the letter and dismissed Marvin Pickering from his teaching job.
The Will County School District asked voters in February 1961 to approve a bond to raise $4,875,000 to build two new schools. The bond proposal was not approved by voters. The school board brought another proposal to the voters in December of 1961. This time the amount rose to $5,500,000 to build the two new schools and it passed. Three years later, the school board asked to voters to approve a tax increase that would be used for educational purposes.
In May of 1964, the voters turned the proposal down. Five months later in September, the board asked the voters again to vote on a tax increase for educational purposes (“Marvin L.,” n.d.).
There were a variety of articles written and submitted to the local newspaper by District 205 Teachers’ Organization. The articles were urging voters to approve the tax increase of 1964. The articles emphasized there would be a decline in the educational process if the tax proposal did not pass. The superintendent of the Will County School District also ran a letter in the newspaper two days prior to the election. His letter was claiming there would be a decline in the educational process to if the proposal did not pass (“Marvin L.,” n.d.).
After the voters turned down the tax increase for a second time, Martin Pickering wrote his l...
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... opinion for the court. He states the court reopened a question in Garrison v. Louisiana (1964).
“The Court gratuitously suggests that when statements are found to be knowingly or recklessly false, it is an open question whether the First Amendment still protects them unless they are shown or can be presumed to have caused harm. Deliberate or reckless falsehoods serve no First Amendment ends and deserve no protection under that Amendment. The Court unequivocally recognized this in Garrison, where after reargument the Court said that ‘the knowingly false statement and false statement made with reckless disregard of the truth, do not enjoy constitutional protection.’ As I see it, a teacher may be fired without violation of the First Amendment for knowingly or recklessly making false statements regardless of their harmful impact on the schools” (“PICKERING,” 2015).
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