18-Year-Old In Supreme Court Battle Over 'F*** School' Snapchat Post
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Brandi Levy - who was aged 14 at the time of the incident - was obviously having a rough day when she posted her comments on social media, and definitely hadn't expected to end up in the middle of a row about whether public schools can punish kids for things they do off the premises.
It's the most significant case relating to student speech for half a century, and relates to a post in which Levy and a friend shared a picture of themselves with raised middle fingers that read: "F*** school, f*** softball, f*** cheer, f*** everything."
The post, shared at a convenience store in Levy's hometown of Mahanoy City in Pennsylvania, eventually found its way to the coach of her cheerleading team, who suspended her for a year.
With Levy now 18 years old and a college student, her case is before the court to decide whether she should ever have been punished for an offence committed off school property.
She told AP: "I was a 14-year-old kid. I was upset, I was angry. Everyone, every 14-year-old kid speaks like that at one point."
Levy went on to explain that her parents took no action against her when they found out she had been suspended from cheer for the post, adding: "My parents were more concerned on how I was feeling."
Instead, they filed a federal lawsuit against the school, claiming that her daughter's constitutional speech rights had been violated.
This case is significant because it uses precedent from the case of Tinker vs Des Moines in 1969, when school students wore armbands against the Vietnam War, and the Supreme Court sided with them, arguing that pupils do not 'shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate'.
Since then, the battle has raged on regarding student speech.
Lower courts reinstated Levy to her team, and a US Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia held that the precedent 'does not apply to off-campus speech.'
The court added that they'd save it for another time when 'the First Amendment implications of off-campus student speech that threatens violence or harasses others.'
However, the school district, as well as education groups and - believe it or not - the Biden administration said that the court's ruling was over-the-top.
Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar said: "The First Amendment does not categorically prohibit public schools from disciplining students for speech that occurs off campus."
University of the District of Columbia law professor Philip Lee added: "Most cyberbullying content is created off campus on computers, iPads, all kinds of electronic devices.
"But at same time, you don't want situation where schools are monitoring everyone's speech at home."
While the Mahanoy Area School District declined to make a comment, lawyer Lisa Blatt said in a brief: "This case is about how schools address the bad days."
She added that schools shouldn't be to 'ignore speech that disrupts the school environment or invades other students' rights just because students launched that speech from five feet outside the schoolhouse gate'.
Those against the punishment worry that educators could essentially be given the right to police students' speech 24 hours per day.
Witold Walczak from the American Civil Liberties Union, representing Levy, said: "That is super dangerous.
"Not only would students like Brandi not be able to express non-threatening, non-harassing bursts of frustration, but it would give schools the possibility of regulating important political and religious speech."
For her part, Levy knows that her battle is not the most significant thing in the world, particularly given the context of some other cases that have gone before.
Walczak even admitted that the 'speech here is not the most important in the world', adding: "This isn't political or religious speech."
But, Levy said: "I'm just trying to prove a point that young students and adults like me shouldn't be punished for them expressing their own feelings and letting others know how they feel."