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Want to know what is on our minds? Find blog posts written here, by the City Club staff, members, and partners. Every week you can find a new edition of #FreeSpeech in the News — a collection of related stories, commentary, and opinions on free speech in the 21st century that’s making the news. You’ll also find takes on current events, past forums, and issues surrounding Northeast Ohio. Read on for all things City Club.

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Monday, June 28, 2021

#FREESPEECH in the News June 28, 2021

Bliss Davis, Content and Programming Coordinator, The City Club of Cleveland

#FREESPEECH in the News June 28, 2021

As the Citadel of Free Speech here in Cleveland, we work to protect and promote the basis of our democracy by sharing related stories, commentary, and opinions on free speech in the 21st century. Here's what's making the news – and what you should know about – in the past week.

1.) Supreme Court gives cheerleader victory in school free speech case

The nation's public schools have no general power to punish students for what they say off campus, the Supreme Court said Wednesday.

The 8-1 ruling broadened First Amendment protections in an era when school children are in nearly constant contact with one another through social media and text messages. The decision did not protect all off-campus expression, but the court suggested that the exceptions, to be worked out in future cases, would be limited.

"The leeway the First Amendment grants to schools," in light of the special characteristics of off-campus expression, "is diminished," wrote Justice Stephen Breyer.

It was a victory for Brandi Levy, who was a ninth grader at a Pennsylvania high school when she was punished for a message she posted to Snapchat one Saturday at a convenience store after discovering that she didn't make the varsity cheerleading team and would remain on the junior varsity squad.

2.) Concerns over free speech on college campuses leads to new caucus in the House

Concerns over free speech across the country, and especially for conservatives on college campuses, have led to the launch of a new group in the U.S. House of Representatives: the Campus Free Speech Caucus.

It’s centered around holding higher education institutions accountable and will "aim to educate other legislators about the clear bias against free speech on campuses and help bring awareness to what is occurring in their districts and across the country daily”.

"We have students across the country that are being attacked, they are being vilified," explained Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla.

3.) Leaders of NC county claim ‘big tech’ violating free speech after video taken down

Henderson County is trying to take on big tech. Commissioners there claim a video of their most recent meeting that was taken down from YouTube, is violating freedom of speech. During public comments at the beginning of a recent Henderson County Board of Commissioners meeting, a handful of residents made unverified claims about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“It didn’t take long, a matter of a few hours when the video was taken down on the YouTube platform. We received a notice from YouTube that the video wasn’t suitable to their standards,” said Henderson County Board of Commissioners Chairman William Lapsley.

Lapsley said they were told those standards violated were during this public comment period over misinformation about the vaccine. Lapsley said the commissioners believe, it’s violating freedom of speech.

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