Bethel v. Fraser

March 3rd - July 7th, 1986

People in the Case

Petitioners - Bethel School District

Respondent - Matthew N. Fraser


- William A. Coats (Petitioner)

- Jeffrey T. Haley (Respondent)

About the Case

At a school assembly for the student government, Matthew Fraser gave a speech for his friend who was running for Vice President. His speech contained sexual metaphors to promote the candidate. The school took disciplinary action by with holding Fraser from speaking at graduation and suspending him for two days. Fraser took the Bethel School District to court and claimed that they violated the First Amendment.

Decision of the Court

The court decided that it was appropriate for the school to prohibit the use of vulgar language. They distinguished between political speech in the Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District and Fraser's sexual content in his speech. They concluded that the First Amendment did not prohibit schools from prohibiting vulgar speeches.

Sites used

"Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser." Oyez. Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Tech, n.d. Feb 4, 2016. <>