A unanimous N.C. Supreme Court has reversed a lower court and thrown out the state’s cyberbullying law.

Writing for the court, Justice Robin Hudson finds:

We now conclude that N.C.G.S. § 14-458.1(a)(1)(d) restricts speech, not merely nonexpressive conduct; that this restriction is content based, not content neutral; and that the cyberbullying statute is not narrowly tailored to the State’s asserted interest in protecting children from the harms of online bullying. Accordingly, we reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals and hold that the statute violates the First Amendment as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment.

She adds:

In sum, however laudable the State’s interest in protecting minors from the dangers of online bullying may be, North Carolina’s cyberbullying statute “create[s] a criminal prohibition of alarming breadth.” Even under the State’s interpretation of N.C.G.S. § 14-458.1, the statute prohibits a wide range of online speech—whether on subjects of merely puerile interest or on matters of public importance—and all with no requirement that anyone suffer any actual injury. In general, “[i]t is rare that a regulation restricting speech because of its content will ever be permissible.” Certainly, N.C.G.S. § 14-458.1(a)(1)(d) of the cyberbullying statute is not. [Citations omitted.]