“Today’s decision may seem obvious to those who have a hard time seeing why public schools should be able to regulate any and all off-campus speech by students, but the fact that the court is identifying circumstances in which they can’t is actually a big deal,” Vladeck said.
“Although the line between the off-campus speech that schools can and can’t regulate is less than clear, the fact that there is a line will have significant ramifications for just about all public school administrators going forward. It’s a rare win for a student in a speech case before the current court,” he added.
Steve Vladeck is a law professor at the University of Texas. He’s right. This is a both a rare win for student free speech and a (small) step forward for the Court. This isn’t ground-breaking in the sense that the opinion declines to establish a broad rule or set a demarkation as to where schools can or can’t punish free speech. It really only says to the school district, “You can’t do it here.”
That’s less useful than it could have been, but at least the Court has it right by an 8-1 margin (Thomas dissenting).