Showdown looming between Mo. Senate, Nixon, over social media language

Sep 6, 2011

The Missouri State Senator who sponsored the measure strictly limiting teacher-student contact via Facebook and other social media has filed legislation she says will clear up any confusion over the new law.

The issue was added Tuesday to the call of the special session by Governor Jay Nixon (D), but in his call the governor only stipulated that the language in question be removed, not replaced with new language.

But Jane Cunningham (R, Chesterfield) says the State Constitution and the Missouri Supreme Court are on her side.

“Article 4, Section 9 says that the governor’s call determines what the subject matter is, but the legislature chooses what action (it takes) under that subject matter," Cunningham said.  "The case in 1922 was Rice v. Edward, and the Supreme Court ruled that the legislature is authorized to legislate upon the subject or matter in any way it sees does not have to follow the views of the governor.”

Meanwhile, the language restricting teacher-student contact through social media was recently blocked by a Cole County judge who stated that it would have a “chilling effect” on free speech rights.  Cunningham says the intent is to protect students from predatory teachers.