This week, in an 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court held that a Pennsylvania school district violated a student’s First Amendment free speech rights by disciplining her for sending private, vulgar social media messages criticizing the school and the school’s cheerleading team while off-campus and outside of school hours.
The case, Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., marks a rare student victory before the Supreme Court in a First Amendment free speech case. Although Mahanoy is a narrow, fact-specific ruling, the case presents a fresh perspective and will require public educational institutions to reevaluate how to manage difficult questions related to the regulation of student speech and student discipline.
I invite you to read Michael Best's complete analysis of Mahanoy and our key takeaways from the case for Higher Ed institutions.
Mahanoy is a cautionary lesson for schools that their ability to regulate off-campus speech is significantly diminished relative to on-campus speech.