Court rules against high school cheerleaders in the First Amendment dispute over Snapchat profanity
June 23, 2021
The Pennsylvania School District may have won the war to regulate the speech of students outside the school on Wednesday, but it lost in the cheerleader’s profanity complaint against Snapchat. The judge ruled that the First Amendment allowed the school to regulate at least some student speeches that occurred outside the school.However, with a vote of 8 to 1, the judges Agree cheerleader She was suspended by the cheerleader for a year and still violated the First Amendment.
case, Mahanoy Regional School District v. BL, Started in 2017, when 14-year-old Brandi Levy did not enter her public school cheerleading team. Levy posted a photo of her raising her middle finger, expressing her disappointment with the social media app Snapchat, with the words “Fucking school, softball, fucking everything.” Although Levy’s snapshot is only in her 250 of her friends showed up in front of her for 24 hours, but the coaches saw the screenshot of the post and suspended her from the junior school team for a year on the grounds that the post violated the team and school rules. Levy went to court, and she argued that the suspension violated the First Amendment. When the lower court agreed, the school district appealed to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court agreed to participate in it in January.
The court’s opinion is that of Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote—unlike the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit—most people don’t believe that “when schools control speech, they give schools extra permission to control speech. Characteristics always disappear. It happens outside of school.” Breyer suggested that schools may be interested in monitoring various types of off-campus behaviors–for example, severe bullying, threats against teachers or students, participation in online school activities, or Hacked the school computer.
On the other hand, Breyer observed that the three characteristics of off-campus speeches would make it unlikely that schools would supervise them. First, a student’s off-campus speech is usually the responsibility of the student’s parent. Second, any supervision of off-campus speeches will cover almost everything that students say or do outside the school. Third, schools are interested in protecting students’ unpopular speech and thoughts. Breyer explained that the court will “leave future cases to determine where, when, and how these characteristics imply that the speaker’s off-campus position will make a key difference in determining whether speech can be regulated.”
But even if schools can regulate students’ off-campus speech under certain circumstances, Breyer went on to say that the suspension of Levi’s decision still violates the First Amendment. Breyer reasoned that if she was an adult, Levy’s speech would normally be protected by the First Amendment. In addition, she made a snapshot on the school playground over the weekend, and there is no evidence that it caused serious damage that could prove her suspension. Breyer admits that some people may think that Levy’s criticism is so trivial that it is not the kind of speech that deserves the protection of the First Amendment. “But sometimes it is necessary to protect what is superfluous to keep what is necessary,” Breyer concluded.
Justice Clarence Thomas is the only opponent. He cited the “150-year history of supporting coaching” and believed that the majority opinion “has the wrong result.” He argued, “Historically, schools can disciplinary actions against students under the circumstances described here.”
This article is Originally published in Howe on the Court.