Taylor Bell was suspended from Itawamba Agricultural High School in 2011 for posting a homemade rap video deemed “threatening” to two school coaches accused of making sexual comments about female students. Bell, who rhymes under “T-Bizzle,” lost an appeal earlier this year to have the suspension removed from his record. However, the First Amendment case has made it’s way to country’s highest court.
Tip, Mike and Big Boi filed a 34-page brief to the Supreme Court claiming the government punished Bell for the “genre by which he has chosen to express himself.” They will appear before the Supreme Court today to urge an appeal in the case.
The trio points out a “double standard” in that rap lyrics can be used against suspects in court, despite being an art form and therefore under First Amendment protection. Additionally, they hope to school Supreme Court justices on rap culture (the brief notes that regardless of his stage name, “Mike has never actually killed anyone"), as well its political history. “Following a long line of rappers before him, Bell saw an opportunity to confront injustice,” reads the brief. "Bell saw an opportunity to confront injustice.”
Noted in the brief is Brown vs. Entertainment Merchandising, a landmark 2011 decision which shot down a California law banning the sale of violent video games to children without parental supervision. The ruling states that “Under the Constitution, ‘esthetic and moral judgment about art and literature… are for the individual to make, not for the Government to decree, even with the mandate or approval of a majority.”
The Supreme Court is likely to decide whether to hear Bell’s case in February.
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(Photos from left: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images, Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Department, Alli Harvey/Getty Images for Spotify)