Mahanoy School District v. B.L.,
No. 20-255

Washington, D.C. — Independent Women’s Law Center (IWLC) recently filed an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court in support of student speech.

Mahanoy School District v. B.L. involves a claim by a female high school student that the school district violated her First Amendment rights when it punished her on the basis of an angry “snap” she sent after being cut from a varsity athletic team. 

The Mahanoy School District argues that it has the authority to punish student speech that “targets” or “disrupts” the school community. What the school district really seeks is the power to punish students for off-campus, on-line speech that criticizes or talks about the school community in ways that offend others. 

IWLC filed its brief in support of the student. The brief highlights the many ways throughout history that young women have used their right to free speech to effect positive social change; explains how social media has become the communication tool of choice for teenagers; and argues that punishing students for “snap” messages that criticize the school will have a chilling effect on student speech.

Jennifer Braceras, director of IWLC, said, “In this era of cancel culture, it is particularly important for the Court to resist the pressure to give school administrators carte blanche to punish off-campus on-line posts by students.” 

“Just because a school principal, a teacher, some students, or a Twitter mob may be annoyed by what a student has to say on social media on her own time does not mean that the school has constitutionally valid reasons to punish her for that speech.”

Read the full brief HERE.


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Independent Women’s Law Center advocates for equal opportunity, individual liberty, and respect for the American constitutional order.