The Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear a case on school speech that could be the most influential on the topic since the famous 1969 case Tinker v. Des Moines.
The dispute stems from Snapchat posts by a high school sophomore after she did not make a varsity cheer team. But it could have implications for tens of millions of students nationwide, and to what extent schools are allowed to regulate and punish students for speech that happens outside of school.
It pits the school district against Christian groups; the Biden administration against the ACLU; and anti-bullying advocates against student rights groups.
After being cut from the varsity cheer team and placed on the junior varsity squad instead, then-high school sophomore Brandi Levy posted a Snapchat story, intended to disappear after 24 hours, in which she and her friend raised their middle fingers to the camera.
“F— school f— softball f— cheer f— everything,” the post said.
Another message said, “Love how me and [another student] get told we need a year of JV before we make varsity but that’s doesn’t matter to anyone else?”
Levy is now 18 and finishing her first year of college.
The posts were shown to the coaches of the junior varsity cheer team. They removed her from the team for allegedly violating team rules against disrespectful conduct or “foul language and inappropriate gestures.”
“I got called down into the coach’s office or the coaches room in the morning when I first got there, and she had it printed out on sitting on her desk,” Levy told Fox News. “And she showed me and told me… it was disrespectful towards her and that she isn’t tolerating that and that I was suspended from cheer for a year.”
Levy’s parents then filed a federal lawsuit on her behalf, and they were granted an injunction which put her back on the team.