The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday sustained a mother’s conviction, who was charged last year with disorderly conduct for swearing at her 14-year-old son over burnt popcorn, without indicating whether she was protected by the First Amendment.   

Ginger M. Breitzman, 44, was convicted of child abuse and intentionally causing harm, child neglect and disorderly conduct stemming from an incident in 2012. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the District 1 court panel deemed her conduct "profane" and potentially harmful.

She argued that her behavior was not enough to cause a disturbance. Breitzman claimed her son had burned popcorn, so she called him a "retard,"  and proceeded to berate him with various profanities that include "f--- face" and "piece of s---." 

After Breitzman was sentenced to six months in jail, she fought the disorderly conduct charge by arguing that her lawyer was ineffective and failed to "challenge the charge as a violation of her free speech rights."

The Wisconsin Supreme Court later agreed with the state and decided Breitzman’s attorney was effective. She was ordered to get counseling and take anger managing and parenting classes.

"Thus, while this case touches on an interesting issue of free speech law, we reserve full analysis of what constitutes profane speech and whether profane speech is otherwise protected as free speech for another day," Justice Annette Ziegler wrote for the majority.

The court apparently took particular interest in the case during oral presentations in September. Justice Shirley Abrahamson commented on the ruling.

"Nothing in the majority opinion should be read as commenting on the merits of the underlying First Amendment defense," Abrahamson said. “The 'unsettled law' doctrine guiding the determination of ineffective assistance of counsel is not sufficiently protective of a  defendant's constitutional and statutory rights to effective counsel."

Breitzman was charged with child abuse in 2012 for locking her son outside of the house on a winter day. He was not dressed warmly, so he sought shelter under a grill cover in the yard until his mother let him in later that night.

Ginger Breitzman Ginger Breitzman, 44, was charged with child endangerment disorderly conduct for an incident involving her son. Photo: Screen shot