A friend sent this to me, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out how it can be legal. Or constitutional.
In a key ruling on Internet free speech, a federal judge has found that school officials were within their rights when they disciplined a Burlington high school student over an insulting blog post she wrote off school grounds.
Avery Doninger’s case has drawn national attention and raised questions about how far schools’ power to regulate student speech extends in the Internet age.
But in a ruling on several motions for summary judgment Thursday, U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz rejected Doninger’s claims that administrators at Lewis S. Mills High School violated her rights to free speech and equal protection and intentionally inflicted emotional distress when they barred her from serving as class secretary because of an Internet post she wrote at home.
Does he think they didn’t harm her? Or that the school didn’t violate her rights? Read on.
Kravitz’s ruling relied in part on the ambiguity over whether schools can regulate students’ expression on the Internet. He noted that times have changed significantly since 1979, when a landmark student speech case set boundaries for schools regulating off-campus speech.
Now, he wrote, students can send e-mails to hundreds of classmates at a time or post livejournal.com entries that can be read instantly by students, teachers and administrators.
“Off-campus speech can become on-campus speech with the click of a mouse,” Kravitz wrote.
Kravitz cited previous rulings and held that school administrators were entitled to qualified immunity, which shields public officials from lawsuits for damages unless they violate clearly established rights a reasonable official would have known.
Kravitz reasoned that because the nature of student speech rights on the Internet is still evolving, the officials could not reasonably be expected “to predict where the line between on- and off-campus speech will be drawn in this new digital era.”
Can someone please read this to the judge? (It’s from the Supreme Court!) I don’t know if he’s literate!
It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate. This has been the unmistakable holding of this Court for almost 50 years.