Federal Third Circuit: First Amendment Trumps School Harassment Speech Code

By on March 16, 2001

In a case in which FIRE collaborated significantly with plaintiff’s attorneys, a federal appeals court in Pennsylvania ruled that the speech and expression provisions of State College Area School District’s harassment policy violate the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The unconstitutional policy mirrors, almost precisely, the codes that dominate our nation’s colleges and universities. Indeed, because the courts extend far fewer constitutional protections to speech at the Kindergarten to 12th Grade level, the implications of this finding for higher educations are momentous and profoundly heartening. Currently, scores of college and university of universities in the Third Circuit maintain speech codes that could not pass constitutional muster.

Cases: State College Area School District: Speech Code Court Decision