Mahanoy is just the latest in the courts’ awkward efforts to make K-12 student free speech cases apply to older, more mature students…but this time, it may make more sense.
A California court rules that Christmas trees are not religious per se, but troublesome allegations of systemic religious favoritism remain to be resolved.
So I missed this last week, but the Supreme Court has decided to hear Shurtleff v. City of Boston, a case brought by a Christian group that was denied permission by the City of Boston to fly its flag, which features a Latin Cross, on a flagpole at Boston City Hall. According to the lawsuit, the City encourages private groups to fly their flags on the city flagpole, and over the course of twelve years had allowed over 280 groups to do so, including Juneteenth and LGBTQ-related flags. But the group claims they were denied permission solely because their flag was religious.
A petition has been started to ban a university student from campus, after he criticized a policy that requires students to address other students using their preferred pronouns. Apparently the university had informed students that "action could be taken" if they used the wrong pronouns. No litigation yet, but we'll be keeping an eye on this one.
Yesterday the Supreme Court issued its decision in Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. by and through Levy, the case involving a tenth-grade student who, disappointed that she did not make the varsity cheerleading squad, went home and posted a picture of herself on Snapchat with her middle finger raised, with the caption “Fuck school fuck softball fuck cheer fuck everything.” The Supreme Court agreed with the Third Circuit that removing the student from the JV cheer squad for her sophomore year violated her First Amendment rights. However, the Supreme Court disagreed with the Third Circuit – or, at least, the two judges in the majority – as to why it violated her First Amendment rights.
This is important, because while the Supreme Court’s decision was obviously a loss for the Mahanoy Area School District, I would go so far as…
As some of you know, I have been following the B.L. by and through Levy v. Mahanoy Area School District case since last year, and reported a few months ago that it had been appealed to the United States Supreme Court (which agreed to hear the case in January). I am honored to announce that I was asked by the National Association of Pupil Services Administrators (NAPSA) (as well as its member organization, the Pennsylvania Association of Pupil Services Administrators), to file an amicus brief at the Supreme Court on behalf of its members. NAPSA is the only national organization that focuses its efforts on the development of administrators and programs designed to serve the academic, social, emotional, and physical needs of all students.…