The New York Times reports that an impressive group of rappers will appear before the Supreme Court today to argue that the country’s most powerful legal body take on a case involving the young MC Taylor Bell.
Bell, who now raps as T-Bizzle, was suspended and then forced to attend a different high school in 2011 when he put out a song about a pair of coaches who were allegedly sexually harassing students. After Bell was punished for putting the song on Facebook and YouTube, he sued his school—on the grounds that the institution infringed on his right to free speech—to have his record expunged. He lost the case and appealed to a higher court.
According to a dissenting judge involved in Bell’s initial lawsuit against the school, “the school board has never attempted to argue that Bell’s song stated any fact falsely.” In addition, “four different female students submitted sworn affidavits detailing the sexual harassment they endured at the hands of the coaches.” A judge who supported the majority opinion, however, was focused on other things: she criticized Bell’s song for its swearing, along with “numerous spelling and grammatical errors.”
Several hip-hop luminaries signed a brief supporting Bell, including Pharoahe Monch, Big Boi, T.I., and Killer Mike. Mike told The Times, “Anyone who is learned in law is capable of separating art and lyrics, whether you agree with them or not, and actual human behavior. I think the courts understand it when it’s Johnny Cash. I think they understand it when it’s Robert Nesta Marley.”
“I see a kid who saw wrong happening and was outraged about it,” he added. “He wrote a poem about it over a beat.”
The Supreme Court’s decision whether or not to hear the case probably won’t be made until February. When he heard that several hip-hop superstars were coming to his aid, Bell said, “It makes me feel like a kid in a candy store.”