Seyfried v. Walton

668 F.2d 214 (1981)

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Seyfried v. Walton

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
668 F.2d 214 (1981)

EL

Facts

The director of a high school’s school play selected the musical Pippin for the school’s spring musical. School staff and administration considered the school’s plays to be a part of the school’s theater-arts curriculum. The musical Pippin contained some sexually explicit scenes, so the director consulted with the assistant principal to edit the script to eliminate some sexual content. After the director selected a cast and rehearsals had begun, the father of a student cast member complained that the musical mocked religion. The superintendent determined the play mocked religion and directed the school principal to stop production of the musical. The school board held a hearing on the matter and decided to support the superintendent’s decision to halt the play. As a result, the school did not produce any spring musical that year. Students were encouraged to express their views on the cancellation of the play. The full, unedited Pippin script remained in the school library for students to read. No student was punished or reprimanded because of the conflict about the musical. Parents of cast members (plaintiffs) sued the school board, superintendent, and the board of education (the school system) (defendants) in federal district court, alleging the decision to cancel the musical violated the students’ First Amendment rights of expression. The district court found that the students’ constitutional rights had not been violated and dismissed the parents’ claims. The parents appealed the decision to the Third Circuit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Aldisert, J.)

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