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Snyder v. Phelps

This First Amendment activity is based on the landmark Supreme Court case Snyder v. Phelps dealing with free speech rights of protesters. Apply the Supreme Court precedent to this updated, relatable scenario in which a college flash mob protests the financial burdens of student loans and the lack of employment opportunities for recent graduates. 

In Snyder v. Phelps the Supreme Court of the United States was asked to decide if the signs and words of protesters picketing Matthew Snyder's funeral were related to matters of public concern and, therefore, should be entitled to greater First Amendment protection.

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How to Use These Resources

This activity is a modified Oxford style debate.

  1. To get started, have participants read the Snyder v. Phelps facts and case summary and the fictional teen scenario.
  2. Assign student attorneys to the issues listed in the talking points. They are suggested points– not a script–for the debate. Student attorneys are encouraged to add their own arguments.
  3. All other students are jurors who deliberate (and may refer to these talking points) during the open floor debate. They debate among themselves in the large group or smaller groups and come to a verdict after the attorneys present closing arguments.