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Pickering v. Board of Education of Township High School District 205

United States Supreme Court
391 U.S. 563 (1968)


Marvin Pickering (plaintiff) was a teacher in Township High School District 205 (school) in Illinois. Pickering wrote a letter to a local newspaper that was critical of the Illinois State Board of Education (board) (defendant) regarding a proposed tax increase. Pickering took issue with the board’s previous handling of a bond issue and the board’s allocation of financial resources between the educational and athletic programs. Pickering signed the letter in his own name and did not represent his views as the views of the school. The content of the letter was not directed at any person with whom Pickering would normally work with in the course of his daily work. The board then terminated Pickering for writing and publishing the letter. The board held a hearing on the termination and determined that the letter contained numerous false statements that unjustifiably questioned the motives, honesty, integrity, truthfulness, responsibility, and competence of the board and the school administration. The trial court ruled in favor of the board. Pickering appealed, and the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted Pickering’s petition for certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Marshall, J.)

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