Last year, I was lead author of an amicus brief on rap music for the U.S. Supreme Court (in Elonis v. U.S.). I have written another brief for the Court, also on rap, but this time with some additional help: Travis Gosa (Cornell), Charis Kubrin (UC Irvine–co-author on the Elonis brief), and Michael Render, aka Killer Mike.
The brief, which was filed this evening (Dec. 21), is posted here.
It is written in support of Taylor Bell, a Mississippi high school student who was suspended for recording a rap song that called out two coaches for sexual misconduct (accusations that the school has not denied). For more information, check out Adam Liptak’s piece in the New York Times, which focuses on our brief but also provides important background and context.
In addition to having Killer Mike as an author, we were also (thanks in large part to Mike’s efforts) able to get a wide range of artists and scholars to lend their name and support to the brief. Among the most notable are T.I. and Big Boi, two of the biggest names in rap. They deserve a lot of credit for their willingness to stand up for a young man who was unfairly punished for using his art to address an injustice, as do the many others who signed onto our brief.
Hopefully, this will help convince the Court to hear Bell’s case and in the process show that when hip hop artists stand up for a cause, people listen.