Supreme Court to Schools: Take Care with First Amendment

ANGELA PASCOPELLA's picture
Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Supreme Court on Tuesday turned down appeals from two Pennsylvania school districts that were successfully sued by students who posted on the Internet malicious mockeries of their school principals.

The court’s action puts school officials on notice they may violate the First Amendment if they try to discipline students for online posts made from their home computers.

Last year, the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that school officials cannot police “off-campus speech” by students unless they can show it caused a major disruption at school. Based on that standard, the appeals court upheld free-speech lawsuits by the students over profiles of their principal that one judge called “lewd and vile.”

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