US Supreme Court rules for cheerleader punished for vulgar Snapchat message

US Supreme Court rules for cheerleader punished for vulgar Snapchat message

Can a student be disciplined for f-bombs delivered on social media from off campus?

One Snapchat post had pictured the cheerleader and a friend holding up their middle fingers with the text, "f- - - school f- - - softball f- - - cheer f- - - everything". The message was sent via Snapchat from a local convenience store on a Saturday.

Although Snapchat messages are meant to vanish not long after they are sent, another student took a screenshot and showed it to her mother, a coach. In response to the message, the school suspended Levy from the team for a year.

"But the Court's foundation is untethered from anything stable, and courts (and schools) will nearly certainly be at a loss as to what exactly the Court's opinion today means", Justice Thomas added. They argued that the school had no right to punish her for off-campus speech, whether it was posted online while away from school, as in this case, or spoken out loud at a Starbucks across the street from school. The School District unanimously won the issue upon which it sought Supreme Court review: all 9 Justices rejected the Third Circuit's conclusion that school districts lack authority to regulate off-campus speech. In the court's last major decision on students' free speech, in 2007, for instance, the court sided with a principal who had suspended a student for displaying a banner that said "Bong Hits 4 Jesus".

Justice Samuel Alito added in a concurring opinion joined by Justice Neil Gorsuch that "while the decision to enroll a student in a public school may be regarded as conferring the authority to regulate some off-premises speech - enrollment can not be treated as a complete transfer of parental authority over a student's speech".

McAfee found dead in cell after Spanish court allows extradition
Spanish outlet El Mundo reported that the mogul had been held in the facility's module 1 wing. McAfee was arrested in the Barcelona airport then jailed there in October.

Thomas also highlighted an issue that's been nagging at the Supreme Court and other federal courts for years - that federal law is struggling to keep up with rapid advances in technology. It was written by Justice Stephen Breyer and only Justice Clarence Thomas dissented.

"The justices have made the right call, recognizing how a judgment for the school district would undoubtedly open the floodgates for school authorities to mete out discipline to students for all manner of off-campus speech", said Jonathan Friedman, director at PEN America, a free expression advocacy group. In this case, Thomas notes that though Levy's speech was created in one location, it could be heard in the school. "It might be tempting to dismiss B. L.'s words as unworthy of the robust First Amendment protections discussed herein", Breyer wrote. "But sometimes it is necessary to protect the superfluous in order to preserve the necessary", Breyer wrote in closing his opinion. Ambro agreed with the other two judges who decided Levy's case that the suspension was unwarranted, but only because what she did was not disruptive either to the cheerleading team or school.

The court ruled that a Pennsylvania high school student was protected by the First Amendment when she posted a profanity-laced caption on Snapchat while off school grounds. Breyer noted 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".

"The school's regulatory interests remain significant in some off-campus circumstances", he maintained. How much less authority do schools have over off-campus speech and conduct?

Related Articles