WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 9, 2021) — Today, Firearms Policy Coalition announced the filing of an important merits-stage brief with the United States Supreme Court in the First Amendment case of Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., imploring the Court to protect off-campus student speech. The brief can be viewed at FPCLegal.org.
In 2017, Brandi Levy, a minor, was a member of her high school’s cheerleading team. As a freshman, Levy made the junior varsity team. Then, as a sophomore, she again made the junior varsity squad while another freshman made the varsity squad. In a series of two Snapchat messages, Levy expressed her frustration with the situation. No violent intent or threats were conveyed, no students or school officials were mentioned, and the sole connection to the school was mention of the term “Cheer.” Word of the messages spread across the school, and the cheer coaches removed Levy from the cheer team. Levy’s parents subsequently appealed to the athletic director, principal, district superintendent, and the school board. All decided to uphold the decision of the cheer coaches. Brandi and her parents then sued the Mahanoy Area School District, alleging that the district violated her First Amendment rights by disciplining her off-campus speech.
FPC, along with the Liberty Justice Center, filed a brief supporting Levy. The brief focuses on two main points: First, that schools across the country are seeking to quash all forms of speech deemed harmful or contrary to new orthodoxies rather than cultivating an atmosphere of spirited but respectful debate. And second, the brief provides numerous specific examples of school districts and teachers imposing discipline based on students’ ideologies. These two points highlight an idea all freedom loving people ought to agree upon; when students speak off campus, on their own time, amongst themselves and their communities, it’s not the school’s business.
FPC is actively engaged in defending and advancing the First Amendment rights of students and all citizens. FPC recently filed a brief challenging mandated speech in Americans for Prosperity v. Becerra, brought suit against a school district for disciplining a student based on his pro-Second Amendment clothing, and authored a brief in McBryer v. The Governors Ridge Property Owners Association joined by professors from across the country arguing the government may not restrict First Amendment rights for fear of opposing voices reacting violently to the speaker's words. In addition to litigating First Amendment issues in the courts, FPC has also published a guide for K-12 students describing how students can exercise their free speech rights to defend the Second Amendment and speak out against people and governmental institutions hostile to natural rights. The free speech guide can be found here.
“The modern-day attack on free speech in America is unprecedented,” said FPC’s Director of Constitutional Studies, Joseph Greenlee. “And that is especially true for students, both on and off campus. We’re grateful to team up with the Liberty Justice Center and advocate for these critical rights.”
Firearms Policy Coalition and its FPC Law team are the nation’s next-generation advocates leading the Second Amendment litigation and research space. Some FPC legal actions include:
- United States Supreme Court petitions for certiorari in Folajtar v. Attorney General and Holloway v. Attorney General (pending)
- Challenge to Maryland’s ban on so-called “assault weapons” (Bianchi v. Frosh)
- Challenge to California’s ban on so-called “assault weapons” (Miller v. Calif. Att’y General)
- Challenge to Maryland’s ban on handgun carry (Call v. Jones)
- Challenge to New Jersey’s ban on handgun carry (Bennett v. Davis)
- Challenge to New York City’s ban on handgun carry (Greco v. New York City)
- Challenge to Pennsylvania’s ban on handgun carry by adults under 21 (Lara v. Evanchick)
- Challenge to California’s handgun “roster”, microstamping, and self-manufacturing ban laws (Renna v. Becerra)
- Challenge to the federal ban on the sale of handguns and handgun ammunition to adults under 21 years of age (Reese v. ATF)
Firearms Policy Coalition (www.firearmspolicy.org) is a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization. FPC’s mission is to protect and defend constitutional rights—especially the right to keep and bear arms—advance individual liberty, and restore freedom through litigation and legal action, legislative and regulatory action, education, outreach, grassroots activism, and other programs. FPC Law is the nation’s largest public interest legal team focused on Second Amendment and adjacent fundamental rights including freedom of speech and due process, conducting litigation, research, scholarly publications, and amicus briefing, among other efforts.