NC Supreme Court strikes down cyberbullying statue

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The North Carolina Supreme Court has struck down the state’s cyberbullying statute, calling it a violation of the right to free speech.

The ruling comes from the appeal of the conviction of an Alamance County teen.

Robert Bishop was 16 years old when he and five others were charged with cyberbullying in three different cases involving social media.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals upheld the conviction, but the State Supreme Court did not agree and overturned it.

The justices write in their opinion that the statute “restricts speech, not merely nonexpressive conduct; that this restriction is content based, not content neutral; and that the cyberbullying statute is not narrowly tailored to the State’s asserted interest in protecting children from the harms of online bullying. Accordingly, we reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals and hold that the statute violates the First Amendment as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Bishop and the 5 others were charged in February of 2012.  The cyberbullying was reported to the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office by the mother of a student at Southern Alamance High School.  It involved negative pictures and comments posted on Facebook.