Amanda Tatro, still upset about Facebook-post punishment, may appeal to U.S. Supreme Court


Amanda Tatro is still upset the University of Minnesota disciplined her for tongue-perhaps-in-cheek Facebook posts threatening violence against an ex-boyfriend. So upset, in fact, that she may end up appealing her case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Minnesota Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Tatro's case this morning. Last summer, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that the U of M was justified in punishing Tatro for the ill-advised posts, but the state Supreme Court agreed to hear her appeal.

In November 2009, Tatro, then a 29-year-old mortuary science grad student at the U, posted Facebook status updates where she threatened to take sharp embalming tools to her ex.

In one, she wrote: "Who knew embalming lab was so cathartic! I still want to stab a certain someone in the throat with a trocar though." A trocar is a sharp embalming tool used to let fluids and gas out of a corpse. Tatro later confirmed that "certain someone" she referred to was her ex-boyfriend, with whom she had recently split.

A fellow student saw the posts and told Tatro's professor. She was suspended from school the next month before being quickly reinstated, but eventually got an "F" in the class. Tatro challenged the "F," saying her spurned-lover posts should've been protected by the First Amendment.

Her damages in the case are minimal: She stayed in school and graduated last year. Jordan Kushner, her attorney, has maintained all along the ongoing litigation is about principle.

According to the Minnesota Daily, during today's oral argument, Kushner made the case that the school's actions were baseless and violated Tatro's constitutional rights. The University's General Counsel Mark Rotenberg rebutted that Tatro failed to abide by the professional standards set for the students in the program.

The state Supreme Court usually takes three to five months to issue an opinion after hearing oral arguments. Tatro told the Daily that if her appeal is unsuccessful at the state level, she'll appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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