Corporal Punishment in American Education: Readings in History, Practice, and Alternatives

By Irwin A. Hyman; James H. Wise | Go to book overview

5
Neither Corporal Punishment Cruel nor Due Process Due:The United States Supreme Court's Decision in Ingraham v. Wright

Philip K. Piele

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
.
T. S. Eliot,
Journey of the Magi

In April of this year, the United States Supreme Court handed down its decision, in the case of Ingraham v. Wright,1 that corporal punishment of students in the nation's public school system does not violate the Eighth and Fourteenth amendments of the United States Constitution. If the Court had been disposed to reach just the opposite conclusion and to ban corporal punishment as an option that teachers and administrators can exercise in maintaining discipline in the public schools, the Court could likely have found no better case on which to base its judgment. The evidence heard by the Court in this case cannot help but shock the sensibilities of even the most clinical observer. In reaching its decision, the majority of the Court was quite obviously looking beyond the circumstances of this particular

This essay is a condensed version of the original paper which was presented at a conference on " Problems of Law and Society: Asia, the Pacific, and the United States," Institute for Cultural Learning, The East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, July 25-August 11, 1977. Reprinted from Journal of Law and Education, Vol. 7, No. 1. ( 728 National Press Building, Washington, D.C., 20004.)

-91-

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