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Important questions need to be answered about Sotomayor's position on student speech rights

(07/10/09 5:24pm)

When Judge Sonia Sotomayor takes her seat for her confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, she will have the opportunity to set right a terrible mistake that threatens to undermine the safety of student journalists. Last year, Judge Sotomayor signed her name to an ill-considered ruling that significantly expanded high schools’ authority to punish students’ speech – even off-campus speech on personal time.

The 24/7 school day: Webcam lawsuit alleges new level of "creepiness"

(02/18/10 6:58pm)

From the '“OMG — If This Is True…' Department" come stories from the Associated Press and the Philaelphia Inquirer today that the parents of a student attending school just outside Philadelphia have filed a lawsuit on their son’s behalf alleging that school officials used Webcams installed on school-supplied laptop computers to spy on students while at home. The suit, filed in the U.S.

Layshock, J.S. and MySpace justice - Third Circuit takes a half-step toward clarifying school authority over online speech

(06/16/11 10:27am)

Young people's near-universal ability to publish online -- anytime, anywhere -- has provoked a flurry of legislative responses and judicial pronouncements, many of them blurring the boundaries that once confined schools' disciplinary authority within the proverbial "schoolhouse gate." Those blurry boundaries are in somewhat clearer focus today as a result of a pair of rulings by the 3rd U.S.

Indiana School District fights for right to be slumber party police

(06/17/11 8:13pm)

In T.V. v. Smith-Green Community School District, a pair of students are suing their school after the school removed them from extracurricular activities because the students posted pictures of themselves with penis-shaped lollipops at a slumber party. In a supplemental brief filed with the federal district court on June 10, the school makes arguments totally irreconcilable with precedent or common sense.

Federal court says Nev. student's instant messages no laughing matter

(08/17/11 1:47pm)

At a comedy club, a bad joke can get you booed. At school, a bad joke can get you expelled. Landon Wynar was a student at Nevada’s Douglas County High School in 2008 when he and a friend had several Internet conversations in which he discussed shooting schoolmates and compared himself to Seung-Hui Cho, the gunman behind the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.

Why Time Magazine is wrong about New Jersey's cyberbullying law

(09/12/11 12:54pm)

In the latest edition of Time Magazine, author and Yale law professor Adam Cohen presents an overly simplistic portrayal of New Jersey's new "cyberbullying" law as a "model" for the nation. Cohen's method of analysis, which typifies the reasoning of many state legislators, can be reduced to this: "Bullying is a big problem.

As "douchebags" case ends, Supreme Court continues to mull off-campus speech rights

(10/31/11 5:19pm)

It’s the end of the road for Doninger v. Niehoff. The Supreme Court denied Monday the certiorari petition filed by Avery Doninger’s attorneys, effectively ending three years of legal wrangling in a period that saw the rise of a host of off-campus, online student expression court cases. Attorney Jon Schoenhorn called the news a “disappointing end” to the case but even more concerning for the larger precedent. “My biggest concern is that it’s going to chill the free expression of thousands of students because of an erroneous reading of it by school officials,” Schoenhorn said. As a junior at Connecticut’s Lewis B.

Supreme Court shows interest in case of student disciplined for off-campus MySpace group

(11/15/11 5:54pm)

The Supreme Court appears to be showing initial interest in Kowalski v. Berkeley County Schools, one of a slew of off-campus speech cases awaiting its consideration. The court requested a response Monday from the West Virginia school district to the certiorari petition filed on behalf of Kara Kowalski, the court docket shows. Kowalski, a former Musselman High School student, was suspended in 2005 for creating a MySpace group that school officials claimed was intended to ridicule another student. The title of the webpage was “S.A.S.H.,” which Kowalski said was an acronym for “Students Against Sluts Herpes.” But posts by other students on the page quickly devolved into disparaging comments about a specific classmate. The 4th U.S.

School attorneys working hard to tip the balance against students like Emma Sullivan

(12/11/11 2:40pm)

A high school student makes a coarse remark about a prominent politician on Twitter. The post comes to the attention of her principal, who gives her a stern lecture about civility but recognizes that his authority goes no further, and that any punishment must come from the student’s parents. This is a delicately balanced system of freedom versus authority at work – and in the case of tweeting Kansas teen Emma Sullivan, the system did work. Emma received a chewing-out for her unkind (but constitutionally protected) message about Kansas Gov.