Bricker’s Mahanoy article referenced in Slate post on Supreme Court conservatives

Firm News

A Slate magazine article rounding up the 2020 term of the U.S. Supreme Court referenced Bricker’s piece on Mahanoy Area School District v. B. L. by partner Melissa Martinez Bondy and staff attorney Aaron D. Rothey, What happens at the Cocoa Hut, stays at the Cocoa Hut. Martinez Bondy and Rothey explain the Supreme Court’s decision that “the Third Circuit Court of Appeals had reached the right determination, but for the wrong reason.” The Third Circuit ruled that the Tinker precedent, stating speech that causes substantial disruption at school is not protected by the First Amendment, did not extend to speech that occurs off-campus. On that basis, the lower court ruled that the school violated B.L.’s First Amendment rights when it imposed discipline for off-campus speech.

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed that the school’s disciplinary action violated the student’s First Amendment rights, but “the decision was based on a determination that the record before the Court did not support the conclusion that B.L.’s off-campus speech caused a substantial disruption at school.” Bondy and Rothey conclude that the Mahanoy case illustrates the paramount importance of demonstrating a substantial disruption when school administrators make determinations about student discipline.

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