PERRY EDUCATION ASSOCIATION v. PERRY LOCAL EDUCATORS' ASSOCIATION

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
81-896
Appellee 
Perry Education Association
Appellant 
Perry Local Educators' Association
Opinion 
Advocates
(on behalf of the Appellant)
(on behalf of the Appellee)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

The Perry Education Association (PEA) won an election against the Perry Local Educators' Association (PLEA) to serve as the sole union representing teachers in Perry Township, Indiana. As part of the collective-bargaining agreement reached between PEA and the Board of Education of Perry Township, PEA obtained exclusive rights to use the internal school mail system and PLEA was denied access. PLEA contended that denying their members use of the mail system violated the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. A Federal District Court ruled against PLEA but the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed.

Question 

Does a local school board violate the First Amendment by disallowing a nonofficial teachers union from using its internal school mail system?

Conclusion 
Decision: 5 votes for Perry Ed. Assn., 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 1: Speech, Press, and Assembly

No. Justice Byron White delivered the opinion of a 5-4 court. The school board chose to grant exclusive access to the official teachers union in order to facilitate a collective-bargaining agreement. It did not act to suppress the speech of rival teachers unions. The school board entrusted PEA with obligations as the sole representative of teachers that would require the use of the mail system. PLEA did not have these obligations and could communicate effectively though many other channels. Since the mail system was not a "public forum," PLEA had no unassailable right to access it. In his dissent, Justice William J. Brennan Jr. contended that the mail system constituted government property and PLEA lost access privileges because its viewpoints differed from those of the official union.

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PERRY EDUCATION ASSOCIATION v. PERRY LOCAL EDUCATORS' ASSOCIATION. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 20 October 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1982/1982_81_896>.
PERRY EDUCATION ASSOCIATION v. PERRY LOCAL EDUCATORS' ASSOCIATION, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1982/1982_81_896 (last visited October 20, 2014).
"PERRY EDUCATION ASSOCIATION v. PERRY LOCAL EDUCATORS' ASSOCIATION," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed October 20, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1982/1982_81_896.