Law & Contemporary Problems
Part of a special issue on amateurs in public service and their involvement in volunteering, service-learning, and community service. An analysis of the constitutionality of mandatory public school community service programs is presented. The legality of such programs is examined with reference to conditions, coercion, and the right-privilege distinction; community service as involuntary servitude; the substantive due process doctrine; conscientious objection based on religion or ideology; and organizational inclusion and exclusion. It is acknowledged that community service programs are not value-neutral, in that they obviously reflect the community's philosophical and cultural judgments regarding the mission and function of public schools. It is argued, however, that if these programs are not value-neutral, nothing in the Constitution requires them to be. It is further argued that decisions to exclude groups from mandatory public school community service programs for ideologically neutral characteristics raises no serious First Amendment difficulties.
Rodney A. Smolla, The Constitutionality of Mandatory Public School Community Service Programs, 62 Law & Contemp. Probs. 113 (1999).