Publication Date



When, if ever, can school officials punish a student's off-
campus speech? The Supreme Court's student-speech
jurisprudence does not provide a clear answer. But this
much is clear: School officials do not possess absolute
authority over students' on-campus speech. Public school
students do not shed their First Amendment rights at the
schoolhouse gate. And yet during school or school-related
activities, public school students do not have coequal First
Amendment rights with adults in other contexts. During
school or school-related activities, school officials may
proscribe otherwise-permitted speech in order to fulfill the
school's basic educational mission, which includes
instructingstudents in civility.
How to apply these precedents to off-campus, online
student speech still awaits Supreme Court review. In
2012, the Court missed the opportunity to clarify its
student-speech jurisprudence by denying certiorari in two
cases-one from the Third and the other from the Fourth
Circuit. This Note argues that until the Court addresses
the scope of school officials' authority over off-campus
speech, courts should follow the Third Circuit's approach
to such cases. Under this approach, school officials'
authority to regulate student speech does include some off-
campus student speech; for example, speech that

reasonably creates a threat to the on-campus safety of
students or school officials. Yet their authority does not
apply to all off-campus student speech that could offend
other students or even devastate their well-being