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

Brandi Levy in her Mohanoy High School cheerleading uniform after she allowed on the team in 2017, following the Snapchat post.
Brandi Levy in her Mohanoy High School cheerleading uniform after she allowed on the team in 2017, following the Snapchat post. Photo Credit: Brandi Levy Facebook

The Supreme Court overturned a lower court's ruling in the case of a cheerleader who took to SnapChat to vent her frustrations for not making the cheer squad.

When Brandi Levy, of Mahanoy City, Schuylkill County was 14 she posted on SnapChat after she did not make the school’s junior varsity cheerleading squad by posting, “F——— school f——— softball f——— cheer f——— everything,” in a post over a photo of her and a friend giving the middle finger, as the Daily Voice previously reported.

The Supreme Court ruled in her favor in this first amendment case, in an 8 to 1 ruling, with Justice Clarence Thomas ruling in favor of the school.

The case was fought in terms of injunctive relief, basically asking the school to state the punishment of Levy was wrong-- the student and her family will not receive financial compensation.

This is the first case addressing the freedom of speech of students off campus and the first student-based first amendment case in over 50 years.

The Supreme Court danced around the issue of schools punishing children for outside of Campus activity, especially online. They did clarify that in this specific case it was wrong for the school to have punished the girl so harshly, but it may be ok for schools to intervene in future cases-- especially those that veer into criminal activity or cyber bullying.

The last case of student's first amendment rights was Tinker v. Des Moines in 1969, when students wore armbands to protest the Vietnam War and their school suspended them.

In that case the Supreme Court sided with the students, declaring students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

Mary Beth Tinker, whose surname was in the original case, has already spoken to the press praising the ruling and continues to show support for Levy.

Days before the case was heard in the Supreme Court Tinker and Levy sat down with the ACLU and discussed free speech for students in America. You can listen to that conversation here.

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