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Student Speech Rights in the Internet Age

Here's a case to keep an eye on:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, in New York City, heard arguments yesterday in the case of a Connecticut high school student who contends that she was barred from serving in a student office because of derogatory comments she wrote about school officials on a Web blogging site.

The Associated Press reports on the arguments here, and the Hartford Courant reports here.

Both accounts say the three members of the 2nd Circuit panel seemed especially engaged in the case of Avery Doninger, who wrote disparaging remarks about school officials from her home computer and then was disqualified from running for senior class secretary.

In a controversy over the scheduling of a social event at Lewis S. Mills High School in Burlington, Conn., Doninger wrote an entry in her public blog at livejournal.com that "jamfest is cancelled due to douchebags in central office" and that readers should contact the superintendent "to piss her off more."

In an opinion last August, U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz of New Haven, Conn., ruled against Doninger, saying that even though the teenager's blog remarks were created off campus, they were related to school issues and "the blog itself clearly violates the school policy of civility and cooperative conflict resolution."

The district court's opinion is here.

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