Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Fall 2022

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Justice Studies

Program or Major

Political Science and Justice Studies

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

First Advisor

J Kirk Trombley


The goal of this paper is to address the failing of the Supreme Court in their decision of the case Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L.[1]. While the Court defended students’ rights to free speech under the First Amendment in Tinker v. Des Moines (1969)[2], they have since restricted that right through a number of cases. While the Court’s decision in Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. protected student speech, the Court failed to provide a standard for application in cases regarding social media in schools. This paper argues that while the Court was correct in protecting B.L.’s speech, it should have gone further to create a legal standard defending student speech through social media. Through discussing recent precedent and the history of student speech in the Supreme Court as well as examining cases about social media under the First Amendment, this paper will suggest a potential standard that could have been created for Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. that would protect student speech through social media while maintaining students’ rights to safety and the schools’ interest in effectively educating their students.

[1] Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., 2021

[2] Tinker v. Des Moines, 1969