The Supreme Court’s “cursing cheerleader” case could reshape students’ First Amendment rights

Disir

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In May 2017, high school sophomore Brandi Levy, who is identified only as “B.L.” in court filings even though her full name has been reported widely, tried out for her school’s varsity cheerleading team. She did not make the team, and was instead assigned to the junior varsity squad. Shortly thereafter, Levy posted an angry message on Snapchat showing her and a friend holding up their middle fingers. The caption read “fuck school fuck softball fuck cheer fuck everything.”

In its landmark decision in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969), the Supreme Court held that public school students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” But Tinker also recognized that students’ free speech rights are diminished in the school context. A public school may punish its students for speech that “would materially and substantially disrupt the work and discipline of the school.”


...The ACLU’s brief, meanwhile, features a list of cases where Tinker permitted schools to censor students for expressing common political views — such as opposition to abortion or a desire for more permissive immigration policy. In one particularly stark case, a federal appeals court permitted a school to discipline football players because they organized a petition lobbying the school administration to replace a coach they believed to be abusive.

Tinker applies a context-specific rule to student speech. The case involved high school students who wore black armbands to school to protest the Vietnam War, and the Supreme Court held that these students had a First Amendment right to do so because “the record does not demonstrate any facts which might reasonably have led school authorities to forecast substantial disruption of or material interference with school activities.”

I do not believe that schools have the right to involve themselves in ANY activity that occurs off campus that is not related to the school. Any.
 

pknopp

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I've often noted that I have problems with the courts diminishing one's Constitutional protections just because you are a student. Hopefully they do re-look at this but I'll be surprised if they do.
 

Death Angel

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I do not believe that schools have the right to involve themselves in ANY activity that occurs off campus that is not related to the school. Any
Would you say that about a business that fires an individual because they dont represent their values?
 

pknopp

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I do not believe that schools have the right to involve themselves in ANY activity that occurs off campus that is not related to the school. Any
Would you say that about a business that fires an individual because they dont represent their values?

In general schools are representing the government. Restrictions are placed the n the government not the people. A business can do whatever they want here.

Would I feel different if this was a private school? Yes.
 
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Disir

Disir

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I do not believe that schools have the right to involve themselves in ANY activity that occurs off campus that is not related to the school. Any
Would you say that about a business that fires an individual because they dont represent their values?
Whose values?

A faith based organization that is adamantly opposed to LGBT fires a gay man. Now, they are (by design) separate entities from the actual church.

A corporation finds an employ that posts respectfully on Twitter and supports Jordan Peterson, Trump etc. and the board of directors decides that person has a different set of values.

Both are wrong.

How about someone who tweaks on their own time? How about a wife beater?

Where is the end at? Values seem to be in play in the moment and largely abandoned afterwards. It's the professional version of gossip mongers.
 
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Rigby5

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The only time any company should be able to fire or discipline anyone for what they do outside of their work is if they are a public media figure for the company.
Firing or disciplining anyone for the personal or political expression is otherwise totally and completely illegal.
There is a myth that since the anti discrimination laws specifically list race, religion, age, and gender as protected classes, that those the only protections.
That is totally false.
All things, ideas, views, words, etc., are protected unless it can be shown to cause infringement of the rights to others, like slander, inciting violence, yelling fire, etc.

The age of the cheerleader is irrelevant.
The fact is she has the right to make what ever statements she wants as long as she is not harming anyone else in the process.
The school does have parental responsibilities to guide and punish to a degree, but not when she is at home.
Then it is up to the real parents to decide if she needs to be punished for this act of rudeness.
It does not fall within the school duties.
 

C_Clayton_Jones

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I do not believe that schools have the right to involve themselves in ANY activity that occurs off campus that is not related to the school. Any.
Not necessarily.

From the linked article:

‘In a world with social media, however, Levy’s Snapchat posts could potentially be read by hundreds of other students — with some of them reading it on their phones while attending school. The barrier between on-campus and off-campus speech has become much more porous, and that has very significant implications for how Tinker should apply.

If you are unconvinced that a cheerleader’s vulgarity is a good reason to apply Tinker’s diminished protections to students who write things on social media while they are not in class, consider the facts of Wisniewski v. Board of Education, a 2007 case in which the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the legality of a school suspension. In that case, a student posted an image online of a pistol firing a bullet into a man’s head. Under the picture, the student posted the words “Kill Mr. VanderMolen” — his English teacher.

Should the school’s ability to discipline that student really turn on whether the student posted this image during school hours or on his home computer?’
 

StormAl

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The girls, imo, should not be punished.
 

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