A number of artists, Killer Mike among them, have signed a brief to the Supreme Court in regards to a high school student named Taylor Bell, who was suspended for the lyrics in one of his songs. In the offending song, he rapped the lines, “Looking down girls’ shirts, drool running down your mouth / Going to get a pistol down your mouth.” The New York Times reports that his accusations regarding several coaches at his high school led to his suspension, despite several female students backing Bell’s claims.
Killer Mike, who signed the brief alongside Big Boi, T.I., and Pharoahe Monch, wrote, “The government punished a young man for his art—and, more disturbing, for the musical genre by which he chose to express himself.” He continued, saying that “anyone who is learned in law is capable of supporting art and lyrics, whether you agree with them or not, and actual human behavior.” In the brief, Mike cited numerous examples of musicians, Bob Marley’s “I Shot The Sheriff” in particular, who did not actually commit the crimes they sang about.
School officials accused Bell of “threatening two named educators with gun-related violence.” Bell is suing to have the suspension subsequently removed from his record, after a first amendment challenge was rejected by the U.S. Court of Appeals earlier this year, citing his “incredibly profane and vulgar” lyrics in the aforementioned song. The New York Times reports that The Supreme Court will decide whether to hear the case or not in February.