A Free Speech Oral Argument

(Pun not necessarily intended.)

The Supreme Court heard oral argument in the case of a 14-year-old girl who tried out for, and didn’t make, a varsity cheerleading team and subsequently vented her frustrations in a Snapchat rife with “colorful metaphors.”

The girl’s school punished her with a year-long suspension from cheerleading, she demurred from the punishment, lower courts agreed with her, and the school continued its protest to the Supremes.

Attorney Lisa Blatt, representing the girl’s school, had this, among others, at oral argument, as paraphrased by Just the News:

Schools aren’t trying to police political, religious, or critical expression, or impose the heckler’s veto…. They want to address digital bullying, harassment, and cheating….
A student who is upset at her teacher can safely text her views to friends but not picket the teacher’s house, Blatt told Chief Justice John Roberts: the “manner” of speech is the issue, not the offensiveness of it.


[Blatt] rejected the suggestion that students can get in trouble for simply sharing unpopular views: wearing a Confederate flag symbol “alone” is protected, but not using it to “terrorize” a black student.

Blatt seemed unable to address those arguments in detail, however.

What about students or teachers who think a student’s positions on police, politics, or religion are themselves offensive?

What about students or teachers who think a student’s disagreement with another student’s (or teacher’s) positions on police, politics, or religion is harassment or bullying?

What about students who think another student’s wearing of a Confederate flag symbol “alone” terrorizes them?

We’re on a short, slippery, downhill road off the edge of a very high, steep cliff when we begin expanding limits on speech.

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