Professor Abrams Praises Supreme Court Decision Upholding High School Student’s Free Speech Rights

In an essay on a leading youth sports website, Professor Douglas E. Abrams praised the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. (June 23, 2021). The eight-Justice majority held that the public high school denied the First Amendment speech rights of the 14-year-old frosh who, after she did not make the varsity cheerleading team, responded with vulgarities in a Snapchat posting that she sent from off-campus on a Saturday. The school suspended her from the cheerleading team for the upcoming year.

The Court warned that courts must remain “skeptical” of a public school’s efforts to regulate a student’s off-campus speech. But Professor Abrams stressed in “LEGAL CONCERNS: What the Recent Supreme Court Means in Terms of Cyberbullying,” that the Justices also specified “several types of off-campus behavior that may call for school regulation. These include serious or severe bullying or harassment targeting particular individuals; [or] threats aimed at teachers or other students.”

Professor Abrams continues to write in retirement. He recently published “Children and the Law In a Nutshell” (West Academic 7th ed. 2021) (co-author), and “Effective Legal Writing: A Guide for Students and Practitioners” (West Academic 2d ed. 2021). He also regularly writes articles about legal writing in the “Journal of the Missouri Bar.”