The Schoolhouse Gate: Public Education, the Supreme Court, and the Battle for the American Mind

The Schoolhouse Gate: Public Education, the Supreme Court, and the Battle for the American Mind

Justin Driver

11.27.2018

Justin Driver

Justin Driver is the Harry N. Wyatt Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. Driver is a graduate of Brown, Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar, and Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. He clerked for Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and Sandra Day O’Connor.

Driver is the recipient of the American Society for Legal History’s William Nelson Cromwell Article Prize. He has a distinguished publication record in the nation’s leading law reviews. In addition, he has written extensively for publications including: Slate, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and The New Republic, where he was a contributing editor.

Driver is a member of the American Law Institute and of the American Constitution Society’s Academic Advisory Board. He is an editor of the Supreme Court Review. Before attending law school, Driver obtained a master’s degree in education from Duke University, and taught civics and American history to high school students. His first book, The Schoolhouse Gate: Public Education, the Supreme Court, and the Battle for the American Mind, was published by Pantheon in September 2018.

Judicial decisions assessing the constitutional rights of students in the nation’s public schools have consistently generated bitter controversy. From racial segregation to unauthorized immigration, from antiwar protests to compulsory flag salutes, from economic inequality to teacher-led prayer: these are but a few of the cultural anxieties dividing American society that the Supreme Court has addressed in elementary and secondary schools. "The Schoolhouse Gate" gives a fresh, lucid, and provocative account of the historic legal battles waged over education and illuminates contemporary disputes that continue to fracture the nation.

Justin Driver maintains that since the 1970s the Supreme Court has regularly abdicated its responsibility for protecting students’ constitutional rights and risked transforming public schools into Constitution-free zones. Students deriving lessons about citizenship from the Court’s decisions in recent decades would conclude that the following actions taken by educators pass constitutional muster: inflicting severe corporal punishment on students without any procedural protections; searching students and their possessions without probable cause in bids to uncover violations of school rules; random drug testing of students who are not suspected of wrongdoing; and suppressing student speech for the viewpoint it espouses.