Dialing It Back: Why Courts Should Rethink Students’ Privacy and Speech Rights as Cell Phone Communications Erode the ‘Schoolhouse Gate’

By: Nicholas J. McGuire

The ubiquity of cell phones in today’s society has forced courts to change or dismiss established, but inapplicable analytical frameworks. Two such frameworks in the school setting are regulations of student speech and of student searches. This Article traces the constitutional jurisprudence of both First Amendment off-campus speech protection and Fourth Amendment search standards as applied to the school setting. It then analyzes how the Supreme Court’s ruling in Riley v. California complicates both areas. Finally, it proposes a pragmatic solution: by recognizing a categorical First Amendment exception for “substantial threats” against the school community, courts could accommodate students’ constitutional rights while upholding school administrators’ ability to maintain a safe environment.
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Cite: 17 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 1

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