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Supreme Court joins cheerleaders on first social media change | National news

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with a cheerleading student in an important free speech case, ruling that the school’s disciplinary action against the student for her off-campus social media post violated her First Amendment rights .

In an 8-1 decision, the judges ruled in favor of Brandi Levy, a former cheerleader at Mahanoy Area High School in Pennsylvania. In 2017, Levy, who was a freshman at the time, didn’t make it onto the university’s cheerleading team and posted a vulgar message from a convenience store on the social media platform Snapchat over the weekend. She was later reprimanded for the comments and suspended from the junior varsity team.

“We need to determine whether the Third District Court of Appeals rightly found the school’s decision to violate the First Amendment. While we disagree with the majority of the Third District Jury, we agree with the conclusion that the school’s disciplinary action Has violated the First Amendment, “wrote Judge Stephen Breyer in the majority opinion. Justice Clarence Thomas was the only dissident on the case.

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The US 3rd Court of Appeals in Philadelphia referred to the 1969 Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District case of the Supreme Court, which argued that students “do not give up their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and expression at the school gate. “Although it provided protection to schools to discipline students for” significant interference “.

But the Supreme Court ruling was more specific to Levy’s situation, leaving open to interpretation of what other students said off-campus and how schools could regulate it, especially as students engage in significantly more online communication.

“We are not now setting out a broad, very general First Amendment rule that specifies exactly what is considered ‘off-campus’ and whether or how ordinary First Amendment standards off-campus must give way to the specific needs of a school, for example to deal with substantial Avoid disrupting learning-related activities or protecting those who make up a school community, “wrote Breyer.

“We leave it to future cases to decide where, when, and how these features mean that the speaker’s off-campus location makes all the difference,” he added. “However, this case can be an example.”

The majority in the court argued that the leeway given to schools to regulate student speech does not always “go away when a school regulates language that takes place off campus,” noting that language regulation can be used in scenarios of serious bullying or Harassment or threats to teachers or students could be required, non-compliance with rules for curriculum or school activities and “violations of school security facilities”.

Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and teachers’ unions welcomed Wednesday’s decision, arguing that it would offer students, especially colored people, protection from speech but also from peer bullying. But President Joe Biden’s administration had sided with the school district.

“We all want our students – blacks and whites, locals and newcomers, Hispanics and Asians alike – to attend safe public schools that are free from harassment and bullying. We also believe that students, as well as educators, have a right to freedom of expression “under the First Amendment,” said Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association. “The Mahanoy Supreme Court decision strikes the right balance.”

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