Lawyers were scratching their heads on Thursday over a federal appellate court’s seemingly conflicting rulings in a pair of closely watched student-speech cases that both involve high school students who were suspended for creating fake MySpace pages on their home computers to ridicule their principals.

Although the cases appeared at first glance to raise nearly identical legal questions about the limits on a school’s power to discipline students for off-campus speech, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the student in Layshock v. Hermitage School District and with the school in J.S. v. Blue Mountain School District.

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