Supreme Court rules on schools' authority over free speech

The court ruled nearly unanimously that a Pennsylvania school district violated a cheerleader’s First Amendment rights when it suspended her from the team for a vulgar post on Snapchat sent from home.
2:03 | 06/24/21

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Transcript for Supreme Court rules on schools' authority over free speech
Next tonight here, school and free speech. The supreme court ruling in favor of a cheerleader who had been punished, suspended for a vulgar Snapchat message she sent while offcampus. What the court said. ABC's Terry Moran has covered the court for years and he's back at the court tonight. Reporter: At the supreme court, a cheerleader's disappointment has become a landmark first amendment ruling. I think this is the most significant decision for young people's free speech rights in the past 50 years. Reporter: By a vote of 8-1, the justices ruled that a Pennsylvania school district violated Brandi levy's first amendment rights when it suspended her from the junior varsity cheerleading squad. The news came as a surprise to Brandi. I went on Twitter, and it said breaking news, and I read it, and I was like, "Oh, my god." And then I started -- I was yelling. Reporter: In 2017, Brandi was just 14-years-old, a high school freshman, when she took to Snapchat after she failed to make the varsity cheerleading team. I was angry. And I made a post on snap. I said, it was, F school, F cheer, F softsoftball, F everything. Reporter: The coach of the cheerleading squad found out about the message, which Brandi had posted off-campus, online, on a weekend, and the school suspended her from cheerleading for an entire year, saying she breached a code of conduct. They told me I'm lucky I didn't get expelled from school for it, because it was vulgar language. Reporter: With help from the aclu, Brandi and her father sued the school in federal court for violating Brandi's freedom of speech and they won. The school district then appealed to the U.S. Supreme court, and today, the school district says it's satisfied with the high court's decision, because the justices said some off-campus, online student speech could be regulated, just not Brandi's. This is the first time the court considered offcampus student speech and in the end, they reaffirmed 50-year-old principles that students don't give up their first amendment rights and schools can regulate speech that disrupts its core educational mission or endangers other students. And Brandi levy, she didn't do any of that. David? Terry, thank you. Late today, the other high profile legal case.

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