Supreme Court Rules In Favour Of High School Cheerleader In Free Speech Case
The US Supreme Court has sided with a former high school cheerleader who was suspended from her school’s sports team over comments she made while off school grounds.
Brandi Levy was 14 years old when learned she had failed to get a spot on the varsity squad at Mahanoy Area High School in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania in 2017; a decision that prompted her to write Snapchat messages reading: ‘F*ck school f*ck softball f*ck cheer f*ck everything.’
After learning of Levy’s comments, the school accused her of violating school rules and suspended her from the junior varsity team. The teen hit back, however, with lawyers alleging the school violated her freedom of speech.
Today, June 23, the Supreme Court ruled in Levy’s favour with an 8-1 majority, with Justice Stephen Breyer explaining: ‘It might be tempting to dismiss [the student’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 said the court made clear that students ‘do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression even at the school house gate’, but noted that courts ‘must apply the First Amendment in light of the special characteristics of the school environment,’ CBS 58 reports.
Though the majority of justices agreed with the ruling, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that students such as Levy, who are ‘active in extracurricular programs’ have a ‘greater potential, by virtue of their participation, to harm those programs.’
He wrote: ‘For example, a profanity-laced screed delivered on social media or at the mall has a much different effect on a football program when done by a regular student than when done by the captain of the football team. So, too, here.’
Levy is now 18 years old and in her first year at Bloomsburg University.
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