WASHINGTON— A wary Supreme Court has weighed whether public schools can discipline students for things they say off campus.
A teen in Pennsylvania, Brandi Levy, was upset after being told she was on the JV cheerleading squad and shared a profanity-laced image on Snapchat. A fellow teen took a screengrab of the image and shared it with the cheerleading coaches, who then decided to suspend Levy from the squad for a year.
The justices on Wednesday worried about overly restricting speech on the one hand and leaving educators powerless to deal with bullying on the other.
They struggled to fit the need to protect students’ political and religious expression with the ability of schools to get at disruptive, even potentially dangerous, speech that occurs outside the school setting.
The court tested out possible outcomes in the case of a 14-year-old cheerleader’s profanity-laced social media rant.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh described Levy as blowing off steam just like “millions of kids” do.
Kavanaugh is one of several justices who have children in high school, or recently did.
The case could determine how First Amendment free speech is handled off-campus for students.