Supreme Court sides with HS cheerleader suspended over profanity-laced Snapchat

Supreme Court rules school wrong to punish cheerleader for profane Snapchat rant in 8-1 free speech decision

The justices, in a 8-1 ruling, decided that the punishment that Mahanoy Area School District officials doled out to the plaintiff, Brandi Levy, for her social media post made at a local convenience store in Mahanoy City on a weekend violated her free speech rights.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that a Pennsylvania school district had violated the First Amendment by punishing a student for a vulgar social-media message sent away from school grounds. Additionally, courts need to be extra skeptical of when schools try to regulate off-campus speech, because it essentially allows them to find issues with anything a student says throughout the day.

Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, noting students "who are active in extracurricular programs have a greater potential, by virtue of their participation, to harm those programs". "The school's regulatory interests remain significant in some off-campus circumstances". In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court sided with the students, declaring they don't "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate". "F- school f- softball f- cheer f- everything", she wrote in her first message, according to CNBC. President Joe Biden's administration supported the district in the case, arguing that off-campus student speech deserves broad protection unless it threatens the school community or targets specific individuals, groups or school functions.

Levy sued the school district, winning a sweeping victory from a divided three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in Philadelphia. The court ruled that while schools do maintain some interest in regulating students' off-campus speech, the factors in the case of the cheerleader, Brandi Levy, weighed against the school's actions.

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Despite ruling in Levy's favour, Breyer wrote that "we do not believe the special characteristics that give schools additional license to regulate student speech always disappear when a school regulates speech that takes place off campus". It would have been enough, he said, to say that her speech was protected by the First Amendment because it did not disrupt school activities.

But Levy's speech did not fit, he wrote. "But sometimes it is necessary to protect the superfluous in order to preserve the necessary", he wrote, using Levy's initials because that was how she was identified in the original lawsuit.

Levy is now 18 and a freshman at Bloomsburg University.

Breyer cited cyberbullying, threats to teachers or students and online cheating as examples of when schools may be able to crack down.

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