In an 8-1 decision on June 23rd, the Supreme Court ruled that a student’s off-campus speech was protected by the First Amendment. The case, Mahanoy Area School District v B.L., involves a message posted on Snapchat by a then-14 year old student identified as “B.L.”, after she learned she failed to advance from the junior varsity to the varsity cheerleading squad. The message, posted on a Saturday afternoon when she was off-campus, stated, in part, “f*** cheer, f***everything.”
A key argument advanced in Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. over the frustrated cheerleader kicked off her squad for an off-campus social media post concerns that of parental rights. Brandi Levy vented her frustration at not making the varsity squad with a string of “f-bombs”on Snapchat. She made her now infamous post on a Saturday outside a convenience store with a friend.
In oral arguments on April 28th in a case involving a former high school student kicked off her cheerleading squad for a profane social media post, the Court explored whether school officials could discipline the student under the Supreme Court’s decision in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969).
On Wednesday, April 28th, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a student speech case, Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. We compiled basic information about the facts of the case, the legal questions at issue, and what experts are saying about it.
The Supreme Court will clarify how far the arm of school authority extends—if at all—to student social media expression created off-campus. The case, Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., involves a message posted on Snapchat by student "B.L." on a Saturday afternoon off-campus after she learned she failed to advance from the junior varsity to the varsity cheerleading squad.
On January 8th, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case involving a high school student who was suspended from her cheerleading team for a Snapchat selfie she made after school hours. The lower courts are currently split as to whether a school can discipline off-campus speech that is substantially disruptive and closesly linked to school.