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Cheerleader prevails in SCOTUS free speech case

Video Credit: Reuters - Politics - Duration: 02:02s - Published
Cheerleader prevails in SCOTUS free speech case

Cheerleader prevails in SCOTUS free speech case

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of a Pennsylvania teenager who sued after a profane social media post got her banished from her high school's cheerleading squad in a closely-watched free speech case, but it declined to ban public schools outright from regulating off-campus speech.

This video produced by Jonah Green.

**VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT** The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of a Pennsylvania teenager who was banished from her high school's cheerleading squad for a profane social media post.

In an 8-1 ruling, the justices decided that the punishment that Mahanoy Area School District officials doled out to the plaintiff, Brandi Levy, for her Snapchat made at a local convenience store - aka, not on school grounds - violated her free speech rights.

Angry that that she was denied a spot in a tryout for the varsity cheerleading team after being a member of the junior varsity squad as a ninth-grader, Levy - then 14 - was at convenience store when she posted a photo of her and a friend raising their middle fingers at the camera, adding a caption "F*** SCHOOL, F*** SOFTBALL, F*** CHEER, F*** EVERYTHING" As a result, Mahanoy Area High School banished her from the cheerleading team for a year.

Levy spoke to Reuters ahead of the ruling, and said she has no regrets.

“From my standpoint today, I'm older and I know more.

I feel like, that's how all 14-year-olds spoke like that.

That's how all my friends used to talk like that.

But I'm proud of sticking through it all the way to here.

I really am because it's going to prove a point that schools shouldn't be able to punish students for how they express their feelings and how they want to." The case involved the free speech rights of America's roughly 50 million public school students.

Many schools and educators have argued that their ability to curb bullying, threats, cheating and harassment - all frequently occurring online - should not be limited to school grounds.

The American Civil Liberties Union, who represented Levy and her parents in the suit, argued that students need protection from censorship and monitoring of their beliefs.

WHILE the justices, balancing protecting student expression with allowing schools to address threats and harassment, agreed that Levy's punishment violated her free speech rights, they declined to endorse a lower court decision that found that the First Amendment prohibited public schools from regulating off-campus speech altogether.




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