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School may be guilty of 1st Amendment violation of student

Reported by Eugene Volokh, The Volokh Conspiracy:

So a school in NJ (Manville) found a flash drive on a student. They examined the drive and found files that were anti-gun-control. One particular file had a cartoon image titled Gun Control for Dummies.

The kid who owned the drive was known to be a loner, a war-history aficionado, with particular fascination with Russian war history.

So the teacher that viewed his flash drive WITHOUT PERMISSION reported the kid to the psych counselor, who called the NJ State Psych folks, who then proceeded to make the kids life a living hell.

Well, the case went to court. The administrative law judge concluded that the board’s actions led to the school admin withdrawing the student (Frank Harvey), and that the board could therefore be culpable if its actions were unjustified. And the judge concluded that there was a plausible argument that the board’s actions violated the First Amendment: (following from the admin court judge)

The balancing of [Harvey]’s freedom of speech against the high school’s obligation to protect the safety of all students is an area that requires a close analysis of all the credible factual testimony available to the tribunal. Petitioner has placed forth a factual certification suggesting the high school’s actions may be motivated by pre-judgments inconsistent with the sole safety of the student body.

Full article here.

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