Thursday, November 14, 2013

Perry Education Assn. v. Perry Local Educators’ Assn. case brief

Perry Education Assn. v. Perry Local Educators’ Assn. case brief summary
460 U.S. 37 (1983)

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed a district court's judgment in favor of defendant union and defendant school board members, holding that the school district violated both the Equal Protection Clause and the First Amendment by opening its internal mail system to the union but denying access thereto by plaintiff educators' association (association). The union appealed.

Both the union and the association previously represented teachers in the school district and had equal access to the inter-school mail system. The union was later elected exclusive bargaining representative for the teachers in the school district, however, and its collective-bargaining agreement provided that no other union would have access to the inter-school mail system. Although the association was not prevented from using other school facilities to communicate with teachers, it and two of its members filed suit under 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983.


  • After first dismissing the union's appeal for want of jurisdiction, the Court granted certiorari. 
  • The association argued that the inter-school mail system was a limited public forum from which it could not be excluded because of the periodic use of the system by private non-school-connected groups and its own prior unrestricted access to the system. 
  • The Court rejected this argument and reversed, holding, inter alia, that the system was not a forum for public communication and the differential access provided the union and the association enabled the union to fulfill its obligations as exclusive representative of the teachers.
The Court dismissed the union's appeal, granted certiorari, and reversed the lower appellate court's decision.

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