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

While he agreed generally that schools should have less authority over off-campus student speech, he objected to the majority's decision not to explore how much less. With the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union, she and her parents sued the school, saying officials had violated her First Amendment right to free speech.

Brandi Levy, now an 18-year-old college freshman, was a ninth grader at Mahanoy Area High School who had just failed to make the varsity cheer squad when she made a decision to air her frustrations on social media.

The U.S. Supreme Court sided with students in a case involving a cheerleader who dropped F-bombs on Snapchat against her school.

It was supposed to disappear in 24 hours, but her cheerleading coaches were alerted to it, and Levy was suspended from cheerleading for a year - but not from school. And of course, it was accompanied by an upside down smiley face emoji. The 8-1 ruling held that the school's interest in regulating student speech did not extend to Levy's free expression, and further that public schools must have a "heavy burden to justify intervention".

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the majority that "courts must be more skeptical of a school's efforts to regulate off-campus speech, for doing so may mean the student can not engage in that kind of speech at all".

In a concurring opinion, Judge Thomas Ambro wrote that he would have ruled for Levy on narrower grounds. First, schools rarely take the place of parents when students are away from campus.


Steve Vladeck of the University of Texas School of Law tells CNN that "the line between the off-campus speech that schools can and can't regulate is less than clear" but "the fact that there is a line will have significant ramifications for just about all public school administrators". "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. Some of our stories include affiliate links.

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".

She sent the message on a Saturday from Cocoa Hut, a convenience store popular with teenagers.

Levy is now 18 and a freshman at Bloomsburg University. Levy has granted numerous interviews allowing her name to be used.

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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