Civil Liberties Organization Sues to Overturn Anti-bullying Law

Published May 1, 2014

If a Jewish student refers to the Holocaust and says the German Nazis were evil, and a German student overhears, should the Jewish student be punished for bullying?

Because of this and other similar situations resulting from New Jersey’s anti-bullying law, the Rutherford Institute has filed a federal lawsuit trying to strike it down.

“It’s overbroad. It affects free speech. It should be written better,” said John Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute. “It uses a so-called ‘reasonable observer’—if a reasonable person thought this would be demeaning or harmful—but … this would apply to first-graders, second-graders. Are first, second, third, fourth, fifth graders reasonable people?”

Whitehead suggested teachers handle bullying situations discreetly and call parents to make sure they’re aware of how their children are behaving. The current anti-bullying laws aren’t working as they ought to, he said.

“It chills free speech. Kids are going to be afraid to say anything factually,” he said.

Article reprinted with permission. Image by TwentyFour Students.