Supreme Court rules on behalf of high school cheerleader’s First Amendment right to Snapchat
The justices said a Pennsylvania high schooler was within her First Amendment rights to post a profanity-laced video to social media while off school grounds
The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a school violated a student’s First Amendment right to free expression after the student was suspended from the cheerleading team for posting a profanity laced-video to social media while off school grounds.
The nation’s highest court voted 8-1 that Pennsylvania high schooler Brandi Levy was within her First Amendment rights to post a video, expressing her frustration for not making the varsity cheerleading squad, to Snapchat during the weekend, according to the court’s decision.
- In 2017, Levy was suspended from participating in all cheerleading teams once the school became aware that she had used the f-word, several times, on Snapchat, the Deseret News reported.
- “While public schools may have a special interest in regulating some off-campus student speech, the special interests offered by the school are not sufficient to overcome B. L.’s (Levy’s) interest in free expression in this case,” Associate Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the court’s opinion.
- The Supreme Court did also say that schools have the ability to punish students for disruptive speech on school grounds, The New York Times reported.
Vietnam-era protections for students cited by SCOTUS
Levy’s case is the latest of several Supreme Court cases that date back to high schoolers using their First Amendment rights to protest the Vietnam War, reported The Associated Press. In Tinker v. Des Moines, the Supreme Court ruled in the late 1960s that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”
- In its 7-2 Tinker decision, the court said students in a public school who had worn black arms bands to school in protest of the war had not been disruptive to the school, according to American Civil Liberties Union.
- “It might be tempting to dismiss B. L.’s words as unworthy of the robust First Amendment protections discussed herein. But sometimes it is necessary to protect the superfluous in order to preserve the necessary,” Breyer wrote in his opinion, the AP reported.