Category
Commentary and Analysis
Scale of justice

Idaho Legislature Continues to Threaten Free Speech, Academic Freedom at State’s Public Universities

Controversy at the state legislative level in Idaho, regarding what may or may not be taught at the state’s public universities, presents an ongoing threat to free speech and academic freedom. It is also one of many recent instances nationwide where state legislatures have intruded upon institutional academic freedom as well as the individual rights of faculty members. 

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Justice Gorsuch Questions the Reduction of Parental Control in Cheerleader Case

A key argument advanced in Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. over the frustrated cheerleader kicked off her squad for an off-campus social media post concerns that of parental rights. Brandi Levy vented her frustration at not making the varsity squad with a string of “f-bombs”on Snapchat. She made her now infamous post on a Saturday outside a convenience store with a friend.  

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Scales of Justice

Can a Public Body Censure Its Members Without Raising First Amendment Concerns?

A public body censures one of its members who had been criticizing the body, filing lawsuits against the body, and accusing the body of not complying with state law.  The public body then censures the member. The member claims that the censure was a retaliatory act against his critical speech. This scenario forms the basis of the case, Houston Community College System v. Wilson, that the Supreme Court will review this term. 

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Justices Question Whether Student’s Snapchat Rant Caused a Substantial Disruption

In oral arguments on April 28th in a case involving a former high school student kicked off her cheerleading squad for a profane social media post, the Court explored whether school officials could discipline the student under the Supreme Court’s decision in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969).    

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Scales of Justice

Iowa Supreme Court Finds Facebook Comments About Landlord to Be Protected Rhetorical Hyperbole

An individual’s Facebook post accusing an apartment manager of being a “slumlord” was protected rhetorical hyperbole rather than a false statement of fact, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled on April 16th in Bauer v. Brinkman.

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Gavel

Federal Judge Rules Former Medical Student Cited for Lack of Professionalism Has a Plausible Retaliation Claim

The treatment of former University of Virginia medical student Kieran Ravi Bhattacharya raises serious concerns about the use of “professionalism” to punish those who hold dissident views or dare to challenge authority.  The university suspended and dismissed Bhattacharya after he raised concerns about a presentation from a faculty member about “microaggressions”.

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Supreme Court to Decide Important Student (K-12) Social Media Case

The Supreme Court will clarify how far the arm of school authority extends—if at all—to student social media expression created off-campus.  The case, Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., involves a message posted on Snapchat by student "B.L." on a Saturday afternoon off-campus after she learned she failed to advance from the junior varsity to the varsity cheerleading squad.

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Scale of justice

Sixth Circuit Rejects Garcetti in Context of University Professor’s Classroom Speech

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling creating a categorical bar on the free-speech rights of public employees who speak pursuant to their official job duties does not apply in the university classroom, a federal appeals court has ruled.

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