In Re Gault

In Re Gault

387 US 1 (1967)

    Issue : What rights does the Constitution provide for minors.

    Decision: Gerald Gault, a juvenile, was found guilty of having made obscene phone calls and was sentenced to six years in an industrial court. The maximum sentence for an adult who committed the same crime would have been two months in jail and a fine of fifty dollars. More to the point, as an adult, Gault not only would have had the opportunity to be confronted by the person who charged him, but would have been entitled to representation by a lawyer. However, since he was a juvenile, he was not permitted these rights. The Supreme Court determined that legally children are people too and in a 7-2 decision, they granted children some but not all of those in the Bill of Rights reasoning that neither the Fourteenth Amendment nor the Bill of Rights are for adults alone.

    Significance: This decision opened up the question of constitutional rights for children.


Corkill, Phillip. The Law and American Education. Tucson, Arizona. 1991 (Lecture presented at the Flowing Wells School District Administrative Office).

Important Landmark Cases in Educational Law