Hello, readers of The Inquirer Morning Newsletter.

First: Here’s what President Joe Biden’s new plan to battle rising gun violence means for Philly.

Then: A Pa. high school cheerleader’s profane Snapchat rant didn’t warrant a suspension, the Supreme Court has ruled.

And: Some fear that Pennsylvania’s plan to merge six state universities could have dire consequences.

— Olayemi Falodun and Ashley Hoffman (morningnewsletter@inquirer.com)

Biden’s antiviolence plan calls for Philly to work with other cities fighting rising gun crime

Philadelphia is among 15 cities participating in a new initiative that aims to reduce gun violence. President Joe Biden rolled out the new antiviolence plan, which includes revoking federal licenses for “shady gun dealers,” as major cities have seen a spike in homicides and shootings in recent years.

In Philly, more than 1,000 people have been shot, and the city is on a record pace with homicides, with 261 people killed this year, according to police. This is nearly a 40% increase compared with this date last year.

Reporters Chris Palmer and Anna Orso have the full report on what this could mean for Philadelphia.

SCOTUS: Pa. high school cheerleader’s profane Snapchat rant didn’t warrant suspension

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday tentatively extended the free-speech rights of students to some off-campus social media posts, ruling in favor of a former Pennsylvania high school cheerleader who challenged her suspension from the team for posting a foulmouthed message to Snapchat after she learned she didn’t make the varsity team.

In an 8-1 ruling, the justices concluded that the Mahanoy Area School District in Schuylkill County violated Brandi Levy’s First Amendment rights.

The court, however, did not take the opportunity to offer clear guidelines for administrators struggling to define the limits of their ability to police off-campus speech in the digital age. Instead, the ruling offered a series of hypothetical instances in which schools might still have a legal interest in punishing students for disruptive speech no matter where it occurred — such as instances of bullying, harassment, or threats of violence.

Reporter Jeremy Roebuck recaps the highest court’s decision.

Reopening resources

What you need to know today

  • The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education plans to merge six state schools in a move that has some worried. Under the plan for the two proposed mergers, the universities would retain their campuses but report to a single leadership team and have one staff and budget.

  • Philly’s ban on single-use plastic bags starts next week, after being delayed by the pandemic since being signed into law in December 2019.

  • Some Philly councilmembers pushed for drastic changes in spending and taxes in the new budget, but they didn’t get their way in the largely status quo budget headed to final approval today.

  • And, authorities detained a Philly councilmember inside the state Capitol on Wednesday after she joined protesters advocating for more school funding.

  • The Philadelphia Department of Prisons will pay $125,000 to two community-run nonprofit bail funds in the settlement of in a federal lawsuit over what civil rights lawyers said were cruel and draconian lockdown conditions.

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

The vintage feel of a new sight never gets old. Thanks for sharing.

Tag your Instagram posts with #OurPhilly, and we’ll pick our favorite each day to feature here and give you a shout-out.

That's interesting

🕵️‍♀️ Mare of Easttown has led to an increase in trespassing for one Wallingford homeowner. And the real Delco police have had enough.

🏅 Carli Lloyd and Kristie Mewis made the U.S. Olympic women’s soccer team.

🧨 What’s class C, and what’s totally illegal? Let’s explain the fireworks rules in Philly, shall we?

🍦 Shore is sweet to go down to the beach for a treat. Here are some of the best places to get ice cream at the Jersey Shore.

Opinions

“Through no fault of their own, innocents are placed on a punishing path of pain. What must it do to children, especially those barely old enough to speak the words of loss before trauma settles in like a permanent squatter?” columnist Helen Ubiñas writes about how she worries and grieves for the children shot in Philadelphia, baring the deepest scars of our collective neglect.

  • “In a country where white colleges and universities initially kept Black athletes off the field of play while enforcing a Jim Crow system of segregation in sports, it is not enough to simply allow African Americans into the game. If these student-athletes are to truly benefit from their labor, they must ultimately, and finally, be paid,” columnist Solomon Jones writes that it should never have taken SCOTUS to confirm student athletes deserve to get paid.

  • “Nassib’s coming out will be remembered as a historic moment for the LGBTQ community, but I hope that we soon arrive at a time when a non-heterosexual professional football player is not a big deal, when true equality is achieved,” New Hope writer Jobert E. Abueva argues.

What we’re reading

Your daily dose of | Green thumb

The pandemic turned James Mosley’s business upside down. But a lifeline — better yet, a vine — came through for the Philadelphia-based freelance photographer as he turned to gardening. Mosley, who is accustomed to working with the negatives to make a better picture, started growing vegetable plants in his Harrowgate studio, Makin Studio North, which is a converted factory that he rented out to artists and small business owners. Once the plants are ready, Mosley uproots them and replants them in a garden in Wynnewood.