Photo of Brandi Levy in high school, wearing a Mahoney High School cheerleading uniform and holding gold pom poms. in front of the supreme court

Mahoney v. Levy: the Evolution of Students’ First Amendment Rights

On Wednesday, June 23, 2021, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of Brandi Levy and public school students’ speech rights, in the case Mahoney School Board v. Brandi Levy. In 2017, Levy, then a 14 year old high school student in Pennsylvania, tried out for her school’s varsity cheering squad. After not making the team, she vented her frustrations in a Snapchat video, where she flipped off the camera and dropped a few swearwords. The school, after seeing the video, subsequently suspended her from the junior varsity cheer squad, saying that her video and its message violated the cheerleading code of conduct. After failing to come to a resolution with the school, Levy and her parents sued, arguing that punishing her for off campus speech violated Levy’s First Amendment rights.

Protesters in silhouette

When can the government prevent me from assembling, anyway?

Ultimately, while there may be arguments about the wisdom of these stay-at-home orders, and perhaps other constitutional arguments to be made, I don’t think the argument that they violate the right to assembly or the right to religion is particularly persuasive. Let’s cross our fingers that these social distancing measures work, and we can all go back to “normal” soon, making this debate a distant memory.

Freedom of Information Act

Actions Shutting Down Information and Freedom – Interior’s Attack on FOIA

The Freedom of Information Act, an invaluable tool for democracy, is under attack. New Interior Department regulations are targeting those who use it the most–journalists, academics, researchers and more. Furthermore, the shutdown is compounding the issue and allowing the possibly-illegal and definitely-unethical change to happen unnoticed.

District of Columbia Circuit Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh

Where does Kavanaugh stand on privacy, net neutrality, 1st Amendment?

Like a good proportion of the country, I have been doing my best to catch bits and pieces of the Senate hearings regarding the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to the US Supreme Court. When I sat down to write this blog I wondered, what impact might Kavanaugh’s confirmation have on intellectual freedom issues?

free speech and protest

The Role of Libraries in Free Campus Speech

Perhaps the most important thing librarians can do is to continue to be a part of the dialogue on how we manage these issues and balance competing interests to ensure intellectual freedom and inclusion, and to be mindful of these issues in program scheduling, meeting space usage, and collection development choices.