The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Mahanoy Area School District v. B. L. ex rel. Levy partially answered the long-standing question of when schools can police student speech that takes place online. But Mahanoy largely ignored decades of scholarship, and opinions by lower courts, all of which assumed online speech was governed by the Court’s earlier student speech cases—especially the seminal Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District.
This Note argues that Mahanoy and Tinker are consistent with each other, and both are consistent with the Court’s decisions governing another distinctive kind of speech: public employee speech. It introduces a framework for online student speech that is based on the framework for public employee speech, one focused on official duties and public concern. By grounding student speech in the public employee framework, I harmonize Mahanoy’s idiosyncratic approach with established law.
Student Speech Online: A Matter of Public Concern,
Nw. J. Tech. & Intell. Prop.