I found this phrase in a 2007 New York judicial ruling both interesting and humorous.

With regard to the constitutional claims, Judge Stone first clarified that the plaintiffs’ challenge was limited to the modality of parent/child communication and that “neither the State nor Federal constitutions include any express ‘constitutional right to bear cell phones.’ ”

This was a quotation included in the 7 May 2007 decision of New York trial court judge Lewis Bart Stone, who ruled in favor of the the New York City school district in a court case over the banned possession of cell phones by students. This original article was written by Erry A. Zirkel, a University Professor of Education and Law at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa. The plaintiff in the case was arguing parents had a right to communicate with their children at school with cell phones possessed by their children, and the school district’s policy of banning cell phones at school should be ruled unlawful. The judge in the case specifically rejected the claim that cell phone possession and use by students could be construed as a constitutional right:

Again pointing out the allocation of policy and enforcement matters to other branches of government, Judge Stone concluded: “[T]his Court would be off on a frolic of its own to extend the liberty/right of parents’ argument to the Cell Phone Rules as a Federal constitutional matter. That digression toward judicial activism, this Court will not take.”

This court decision is three years old, and I’m sure debates surrounding student possession as well as use of cell phones in New York schools specifically have continued to rage. If you have updates about this I’d love to hear them. I laughed out loud when I read this “constitutional right to bear cell phones” phrase, and wanted to pass this along. 🙂

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Rin-Tin-Tin

APA Citation:

Zirkel, P. (2008). Calling Off Cell Phones. Phi Delta Kappan, 89(6), 464. Retrieved from MasterFILE Premier database.

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