J.S. v. Blue Mountain School District
In 2007, J.S. was a minor at Blue Mountain Middle School in Pennsylvania. She made a parody MySpace profile for her principal, portraying him as a sex addict who hit on students and parents. In response, the principal suspended J.S. for ten days. J.S. and her family sued, arguing that the school could not discipline her for her off-campus speech.
In 2008, the trial court found for the school district, and in 2009, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit agreed with the trial court.
In 2010, the SPLC —joined by the Pennsylvania Center for the First Amendment and the Marion B. Brecher First Amendment Project —filed an amicus brief urging the en banc Third Circuit to reconsider the panel decision in J.S. We pointed out that the panel decision lowered the constitutional threshold for off-campus speech that the panel’s decision could not be reconciled with other decisions from the same court. In 2011, the en banc Third Circuit reversed the panel decision, finding that J.S.’ rights were violated when she was disciplined.