Students right to free speech should be upheld
The Supreme Court announced Tuesday that it will not intervene in three cases of First Amendment controversies over students on the Internet - a move that could have dangerous repercussions.
All three incidents occurred when students posted controversial material on MySpace, and the school district intervened. Had the Supreme Court ruled on the cases, a precedent would have been set on the boundaries of free speech for students in the digital age. However, such gray areas are still unresolved, leaving students susceptible to abusing or losing their First Amendment rights.
According to the Student Press Law Center (SPLC), the first incident occurred in 2005, when high school senior Justin Layshock, created one of several profiles mocking Hickory High School principal Eric Trosch.
The school district found that Layshock violated a number of rules and sentenced him toout-of-school suspension, Layshock's parents sued the school district on the grounds that the sentencing violated the First Amendment. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Layshock.
A similar incident reported by the SPLC occurred when twoeighth-grade students created a profile using principal James McGonigle's picture and fakebiographical information and were suspended. One student's mother sued the school and won.
Several court precedents such as Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District allow for limitations of students' First Amendment rights if the speech causes a significant disruption in the school.
School officials act as publicfigures within their district and should not be exempt from criticism and even mockery by the people they serve: students and parents of the district. As long as there is no serious disruption of classroom activities and no danger to the students, the speech should be allowed.
The third case discovered by the SPLC, however, was against another student, not an administrator. In 2005, Kara Kowalski created a group titled "S.A.S.H.", which may have stood for "Students Against Shay's Herpes."
Shay's parents filed aharassment claim at the school. Kowalski also receivedout-of-school suspension and was banned from school events. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the punishment.
In cases of bullying, such as Kowalski's, speech potentially should be monitored for the protection of the students. Given recent issues with suicide and school bullying, issues of harassment and bullying between students should be taken seriously and controlled. In extreme cases such as these, the well-being and safety of a minor could be compromised if action is not taken.
One thing is certain: the Supreme Court's decision to reject considering the cases leaves unanswered questions for school officials and their students concerning censorship on the Internet. If the Supreme Court ruled on the issue, then they would have done more than acknowledge the lower court's decision: they would have set a new precedent appropriate for the digital age.
Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly
From Around the Web
More usforacle News Articles
Recent usforacle News Articles
Discuss This Article
MOST POPULAR USFORACLE
GET TOP STORIES DELIVERED WEEKLY
FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER
LATEST USFORACLE NEWS
- ‘Jurassic World’ brings dino excitement back to life
- Haitian students to lead discussion on Caribbean migration crisis
- Schools share strategies for student success
- SCOTUS ruling not a personal attack against conservatives
- Woulard announces transfer to USF
- Antigua fills void with Penn State transfer
- Taggart adds offensive line depth
FROM AROUND THE WEB
- Pointers for Packing the Perfect Summer Picnic
- Natural Snacks Make Nutritious Meals
- How American-Made Products Benefit Many
- Los Hispanos Celebran El Verano Con Diversión,...
- Minimizing the Mess: How to Keep a Clean Home With Kids
- Millennials Help Boost the Popularity of ETFs
- How to Handle the Potential Pitfalls of Dating
- Smart Homes Save Time and Money
- Simple Steps to Safeguard Your Second Home
- Smart Ways to Save on Home Insurance
COLLEGE PRESS RELEASES
- vitaminwater® Announces Project Hustle Finalists
- Supermodel Jaslene Gonzalez to Speak at Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority 25th Anniversary Sisterhood Retreat
- LEMELSON-MIT ANNOUNCES NATIONAL COLLEGIATE STUDENT PRIZE COMPETITION WINNERS
- NEW WEBSITE FEATURES COLLEGE PROFESSORS EXCLUSIVELY AS ONLINE TUTORS
- Dickinson College and Jadu Reinvent Website and Portal with 'Single Experience Student Platform'