US Supreme Court Rules In Favor Pennsylvania Cheerleader In First Amendment Case

  • US Supreme Court Rules In Favor Pennsylvania Cheerleader In First Amendment Case

US Supreme Court Rules In Favor Pennsylvania Cheerleader In First Amendment Case

The decision marked the first time that an appeals court issued such a broad interpretation of the Supreme Court's landmark student speech decision more then a half century ago.

The court held that, "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".

Justice Clarence Thomas, the only dissenter of the majority opinion, argued the ruling does not accurately reflect historical rulings from similar cases and is too vague for schools to interpret.

"The school's regulatory interests remain significant in some off-campus circumstances", it continued.

But nevertheless, the school could not discipline Levy, the court said, because her speech in this instance was not disruptive.

While he agreed generally that schools should have less authority over off-campus student speech, he objected to the majority's decision not to explore how much less. Levy, now an 18-year-old college student studying accounting, had been a member of the high school's junior varsity cheerleading squad and tried out near the end of her freshman year for the varsity team.

The photo eventually made its way to the cheerleading coaches, who suspended Levy from the team for a year, saying the Snapchat violated team rules by using "foul language and inappropriate gestures" and featuring "negative information regarding cheerleading, cheerleaders, or coaches", The Washington Post reported.

Despite ruling in Levy's favour, Breyer wrote 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. Because the board's April 2018 resolution purports to authorize certain school employees to go armed while on duty without also requiring that those employees satisfy the training-or-experience requirement (violates state law)". It would have been enough, he said, to say that her speech was protected by the First Amendment because it did not disrupt school activities. "But sometimes it is necessary to protect the superfluous in order to preserve the necessary", Breyer wrote in closing his opinion. The case involved the free speech rights of America's roughly 50 million public school students.

Breyer cited cyberbullying, threats to teachers or students and online cheating as examples of when schools may be able to crack down.

The case was one of four the justices decided Wednesday as they approach their summer break.

Sided with agriculture businesses challenging a California labor regulation that allowed union organizers on their property.