The Supreme Court rules a former Pennsylvania cheerleader should not have faced school punishment for an expletive-filled Snapchat rant
A years-long legal battle over a cheerleader’s Snapchat rant has now been settled by the Supreme Court. In an 8-1 ruling, SCOTUS decided that Brandi Levy’s school violated her First Amendment rights when they punished her over the social media post.
Back in 2017, 14-year-old Brandi Levy unleashed an angry Snapchat after finding out she didn’t make Mahanoy Area High School’s varsity cheerleading squad. “Fuck school, fuck softball, fuck cheer, fuck everything,” she posted, along with a picture of her and a friend giving the middle finger. The snap eventually found its way to the squad’s coach and Levy was banned from the squad for a year, leading her to sue the school.
At first blush, it might seem a little bit ridiculous that a case that basically boils down to a disgruntled teenager dropping F-bombs made it all the way to the highest court in the land. Can you even imagine being hauled before the authorities over the dumb things you said as a 14-year-old?!
The SCOTUS Justices themselves, however, apparently felt this particular case had important implications over the right to free speech.
“Sometimes it is necessary to protect the superfluous in order to preserve the necessary,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the majority opinion (and I don’t think anything is more superfluous than what kids post on Snapchat). The opinion noted that Levy’s post was made off of school grounds, outside of school hours, didn’t name the school or target anyone specifically, and therefore, the school’s rules against “indecent,” “lewd,” or “vulgar” language couldn’t be enforced.
Levy, who is now a freshman in college according to CNN, celebrated the ruling. “Young people need to have the ability to express themselves without worrying about being punished when they get to school. I never could have imagined that one simple snap would turn into a Supreme Court case, but I’m proud that my family and I advocated for the rights of millions of public school students,” she said.
While most kids (hopefully) won’t ever find themselves in a situation as extreme as Levy’s, the case should serve as a reminder that what happens on Snapchat doesn’t always stay on Snapchat, and the internet is basically forever. If you’re over the age of 30 or so, don’t forget to thank the universe today that you didn’t grow up with social media, and there’s now so much less evidence of the cringiest years of your life.