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Third Circuit Upholds Student Speech, Taking Same Side as Professor David S. Cohen in Amicus Brief

August 06, 2013

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld the rights of middle-school students in the “I ♥ Boobies” case, for which Professor David S. Cohen co-authored an amicus brief, with the Women's Law Project and with help from Class of 2012 alumna Rachel Shaffer. 

On Aug. 5, the court struck down a ban imposed by Easton, Pa. school officials on bracelets bearing the message, “I ♥ Boobies! KEEP A BREAST” to promote breast-cancer awareness.  District officials had disciplined two middle-school students for wearing bracelets that bore that message to school.

The court ruled that public school officials cannot ban speech that is not obviously lewd and offensive, especially when its goal is to convey a social or political message.  

Cohen co-authored an amicus brief on behalf of more than a dozen organizations, including the Women’s Law Project, where he serves on the board of trustees. The brief argued that the school district’s ban on the bracelets reflected discriminatory attitudes about the female body and outdated stereotypes of girls and boys that ultimately promote views that harm women. 

Class of 2012 alumna Rachel Shaffer contributed research and helped craft some of the arguments on a pro bono basis, Cohen said. 

“Rachel’s work was incredibly helpful,” Cohen said. “She was a great member of the team on the brief.”