back to article US Supreme Court rules teens cussing out schools on social media is protected speech

The US Supreme Court has ruled that teenagers cussing out public high schools on social media is protected speech under the First Amendment to the US Constitution, so long as it doesn't include threats, bullying or anything that disrupts the operation of the school. The case stemmed from an outburst made by Brandi Levy on a …

  1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
    Joke

    How much

    for the NFT of the screenshot?

    1. FILE_ID.DIZ Bronze badge
      Mushroom

      Re: How much

      NFT is such bullshit. It doesn't even prove that your the sole holder of an item, just that you are a holder of said item.

      I know your comments were in jest, but the mere mention of NFT just sets my teeth on edge. But it is well known that money parts ways from fools from time to time.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: How much

        Sorry, for 'setting your teeth on edge'. I agree with you about 'them', by the way. It reminds me of the 'Dotcom boom' we had some while ago.

  2. aerogems

    Good

    The whole "but, but... bullying!" excuse was so pathetically transparent in this case it was kind of like "why even bother?" Some petty tyrant administrator wanted to punish this young woman, plain and simple. Now the taxpayers of that community are on the hook for millions in legal bills to satisfy that arsehole's ego.

    1. Someone Else Silver badge

      Re: Good

      Apparently Brandi did exactly what she said! Good on her.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good

        Oh, that's interesting - I thought that a F-bomb was a Facebook thing.

  3. anothercynic Silver badge

    Excellent

    Just because they're minors doesn't mean they are not allowed to have free speech.

    Sorry school, you messed this one up good.

    1. tfewster Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Excellent

      So would you be OK with a teacher swearing in front of a class?

      The "contract" was about cheerleaders promoting high moral standards; The "punishment" for infraction was being dropped as a cheerleading "ambassador", nothing that would affect her education.

      In mitigation, it was meant to be a private message, but someone snitched.

      Free speech does not mean freedom from the consequences of your words.

      1. Imhotep Silver badge

        Re: Excellent

        An unpopular opinion it seems. I am disappointed in parents that hire a lawyer to make sure their obnoxious child continues to remain so.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Excellent

          "I am disappointed in parents that hire a lawyer to make sure their obnoxious child continues to remain so."

          Wrong way of looking at it. The parent hired the lawyer to ensure that in the future, parents are allowed to parent and the schools should butt the fuck out when the kid is off school premises, outside school hours, not under the supervision of the school, and not using school equipment.

          Basically, the Supreme Court of the United States told Mahanoy Area High School in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania to fuck off and mind their own business. I heartily agree with them.

          As a side note, the kid may or may not have been an obnoxious teenager. I don't know, I wasn't there (but I'm not so old that I've forgotten how bad my friends and I could be at that age!). However, I saw an interview with her and her dad a week or so ago, and she seems to have grown into a well-spoken, Uni-bound, respectful young adult. Clearly her parents were doing something right.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. low_resolution_foxxes Silver badge

        Re: Excellent

        Why is this in anyway comparable to a teacher telling the kids to f themselves? One is a professional, on duty and employed to teach minors, with a duty of responsibility.

        The other is a minor, talking to other minors, outside of school, in private. Sure, it's probably embarrassing and not the greatest feat. But seriously, cops could never enforce this, because it's not a crime.

        Reminds me a bit of that 18yr old American girl who was kicked out of her University last year. Her crime? As a 15yr old white girl, she posted a Snapchat video of herself singing along to a rap song, singing the unmentionable word. Her ex sent to the uni HR team as a revenge tactic.

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Excellent

        "So would you be OK with a teacher swearing in front of a class?"

        The opinion was written very narrowly. Schools may not punish students for activities off-campus that are not part of school programs.

        It didn't go as far as permitting unruly behavior in a classroom or on campus. That's outside the spirit of the 1st Amendment.

        In the US, you could be sacked for "ministering" to your coworkers. There is both Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion, but a company can make a rule that if you are being disruptive and annoying your coworkers, you can be fired after given a warning or three.

        Yes it was private and the case should also be used to illustrate that posting things online is akin to making them public regardless of the forum. If she had just vented in the company of a few friends, there would be no issue.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Excellent

          There is no issue now, that's for sure.

      4. Robert 22

        Re: Excellent

        There are quite a few legal cases in the pipeline in the US where people who are serial liars are claiming or are going to claim that they were merely exercising their right to free speech. It is hypocritical to go after a high school student for swearing in a private message.

  4. jake Silver badge

    About fucking time.

    What took 'em so long?

    1. quxinot Silver badge

      Re: About fucking time.

      Thank fucking God.

      Where was this shit when I was in school?

  5. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Happy

    FCUK

    For additional effect, she could have worn a T-Shirt with the well-known branding of the UK arm of French Connection.

  6. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge

    Hmm ...

    "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

    Evelyn Beatrice Hall, The Friends of Voltaire (1906)

  7. HildyJ Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    The bigger question

    Since it is now the 'law of the land' that a school cannot restrict off campus speech of students, one wonders if a similar argument can be made by the court relating to employees' off the job speech?

    1. runt row raggy

      Re: The bigger question

      the first amendment is a restriction on the government's behavior, so this would not apply to a private employer.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: The bigger question

        A common belief, but wrong. Courts have consistently held that the freedom of expression extends to attempts to use the power of the state to prevent or compel expression. "It's not the government" is not a sufficient test.

        See, oh, anything people who understand Constitutional law have written on this matter.

    2. John 110
      Trollface

      Re: The bigger question

      I would hope that any intelligent person who is planning to work anywhere else would self-censor on social media. I'm not involved in interviewing potential staff anymore, but I know I would think twice about employing someone who was shouting profanity about their current employer on a regular basis.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: The bigger question

        I'm pretty sure that most intelligent people ignore so-called "social" media ... or at the very least, provide no identifying information with that account and when posting.

      2. G.Y.

        not employer Re: The bigger question

        The school was not her employer

  8. Michael Hoffmann

    Private schools, however?

    As is always emphasised, the US 1st Amendment applies to government. Private entities have more leeway in controlling speech.

    Does that mean that a private school would still be in its rights to kick a student out?

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Private schools, however?

      "Does that mean that a private school would still be in its rights to kick a student out?'

      The opinion makes it clear the court is only commenting on speech outside of a school by a student not otherwise taking part in school activities. I don't think a private school would be any different although they may have a moral code that would allow them to delete a student in certain cases. A student in a religious school that is speaking out against church doctrine will likely be invited to leave. It might be very different if they are abusing a teacher that is "picking on them and being so unfair".

    2. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Re: Private schools, however?

      The object of the US constitution is primarily federal government which it creates. Secondarily, it also constrains the states (and their inferior subunits--counties, cities, schools, HOAs, etc.) Except for slavery, private contract is entirely beyond the US constitution.

      Which is different from saying that there are not societal constraints which the constitution is enforcing on the government. Freedom of speech is a matter which we as a society are supposed to respect, so if I'm trying to talk and others come and shout me down, they are violating my freedom of speech but not the constitution.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Private schools, however?

        Except for slavery, private contract is entirely beyond the US constitution.

        This is wrong. The courts have consistently held that using the power of the state against expression – in particular including civil suits – runs foul of the First Amendment.

        1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          Re: Private schools, however?

          What does "private contract" have to do with "using the power of the state against expression"? Are you suggesting that all of those NDAs that I have signed violate the 1st & are therefore unenforceable?

          That's a bold claim...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Private schools, however?

            You are free to violate the terms of your NDAs. There are no criminal sanctions.

            1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

              Re: Private schools, however?

              What's your point? Companies can, have,and will take you to court and extract a sanction from you for violating an NDA. There is nothing in the constitution to prevent it. In fact, enforcement of contract is the primary function of the courts. And if you don't do as the court says, you will be facing criminal sanctions.

  9. Andrew Williams

    Seem to have given the green light to kids terroring their teachers.

  10. Jason Bloomberg

    And fuck the snitches

    And all the other Puritanical Snowflakes.

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