Then high-school junior Avery Doninger was ticked off that the battle of the bands (Jamfest) was cancelled. So, at home, on her own blog, she posted an entry stating that
Jamfest is canceled due to the douchebags in central office.
As events unfolded, it turns out her characterization was pretty accurate. Her punishment? She was told to apologize to the school superintendent, show her mom the blog entry, and withdraw her candidacy for Class Secretary (an office she held since entering high school). She agreed to the first two, but would not withdraw from the race. So the school refused to let her run (she would have won as a write-in candidate, but the votes were ignored!), and she filed suit, claiming that the school violated her right to free speech.
The result? She lost! “The content of the blog was related to school issues, and it was reasonably foreseeable that other LMHS students would view the blog and that school administrators would become aware of it,” said U.S. District Court Judge Mark Kravitz. I think her Mom, who was praised on local radio for telling Avery “you’re grounded, and we’re going to federal court to file a civil suit,” has it right. She said:
Punishment is up to me. This erodes the training ground for the democratic process, which must be that you have to distrust democracy occasionally in order to make it work. The embedded lesson of democracy at Lewis S. Mills is hollow. Theirs is an overreaching power to orchestrate.
Here’s hoping the Court of Appeals agrees. Update: The Court of Appeals didn’t, upholding Judge Kravitz’s decision. But wait! Ms. Doninger’s attorney is going to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.