Constitution Day Topic: Student Free Speech

Quick Summary

  • Virtual program Sept. 17 sponsored by Cal LAW Pathways
  • Featuring UC Davis Dean Kevin Johnson and Maleah Vidal
  • Law school alumna Vidal is assistant campus counsel

Student free speech will be the topic for Kevin R. Johnson, dean of the UC Davis School of Law, and Maleah N. Vidal, assistant campus counsel, when they participate in California LAW Pathways’ Constitution Day program, Friday, Sept. 17.


  • WHAT: Constitution Day With Cal LAW
  • WHEN: 1-2:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17
  • WHERE: Online
  • ADMISSION: Free and open to the public. Register here.


Constitution Day at UC: Read a message from President Michael V. Drake and learn more about the Constitution.

California Leadership-Access-Workforce, or Cal LAW, fosters a diversity pipeline from high schools, community colleges and four-year universities to law school and other law-related careers. It was established in 2015 under the leadership of the State Bar of California’s Council on Access and Fairness, and with support from the Law School Admission Council; Dean Johnson serves on the Cal LAW board.

Vidal joined the campus counsel's office in May as the Chancellor's Legal Fellow. She earned a Bachelor of Arts at San Diego State University and Juris Doctor at the UC Davis School of Law. While in law school she worked at the UC Davis Workers Rights Clinic and Family Protection Clinic, WEAVE, Legal Services of Northern California and Bay Area Legal Aid, and contributed more than 100 hours of pro bono legal services.

Cal LAW’s Constitution Day program will begin with a video, We the People, about the signing of the Constitution, Sept. 17, 1787, at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.

Frustrated cheerleader

Kevin Johnson and Maleah Vidal headshots
Kevin R. Johnson and Maleah N. Vidal

Johnson and Vidal will discuss Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., in which the U.S. Supreme Court by a vote of 8-1 upheld student free speech outside of school, and how the ruling applies to Cal LAW Pathways students. The case out of Pennsylvania involved a high school student who, while off campus, took to social media to express her frustration at not making the varsity cheerleading squad — and used vulgar language and gestures in one of her posts.

The school district suspended the student from the junior varsity cheerleading squad for the coming year. The student and her parents sought unsuccessfully to have the punishment overturned, then went to federal court arguing the punishment violated the student’s rights under the First Amendment. They won in District Court and the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and, eventually, at the Supreme Court.

Coming in November

The UC Davis School of Law announced its annual Central Valley Foundation/James B. McClatchy Lecture on the First Amendment will be given by the University of Virginia’s Danielle Citron, addressing the topic “Intimate Privacy: A Civil Right.”

Citron is the Jefferson Scholars Foundation Schenck Distinguished Professor in Law and Chapman Professor of Law in the UV’s School of Law, where she writes and teaches about privacy, free expression and civil rights.

Her UC Davis lecture will be held remotely from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3. Register here. This talk will also be part of the School of Law’s Racial Justice Speaker Series.

Media Resources

Dateline Staff: Dave Jones, editor, 530-752-6556,; Cody Kitaura, News and Media Relations specialist, 530-752-1932,

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