Supreme Court to consider free speech case involving Schuylkill County cheerleader

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FILE – In this Sept. 23, 2020 file photo, the sun rises behind the Supreme Court in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

MAHANOY CITY, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A profanity-laced social media post landed a Schuylkill County teen in hot water, and a case of student free speech in the Supreme Court.

A 14-year-old girl blasted her school on snapchat. Now it’s the first case addressing the freedom of speech of students or minors the Supreme Court has heard in 50 years.

The Mahanoy School District suspended Brandi Levy from cheerleading over a profanity laced posting on snapchat.

The arguments in court on Wednesday morning were centered on whether public schools can discipline students for something they say off campus.

The Supreme Court of the United States Wednesday weighed whether public schools can discipline students for things they say when they are not on campus.

The nine justices heard nearly two hours of arguments in an appeal by the Mahanoy Area School District of a lower court ruling in favor of Brandi Levy of Mahanoy City. That lower court found free speech bars public school officials from regulating things said off campus.

The Supreme Court justices heard arguements from both sides in the case of 14-year-old Brandi Levy’s profanity-laced social media rant.

Justice Stephen Breyer at one point said, “I’m frightened to death of writing a standard.”

Judge Brett Kvanaugh describing her rant as blowing off steam, “as millions of kids do.”

The case was the talk of the town Wednesday.

“What the school did was the right thing by kicking her off the cheerleading team and all that,” said
Gerald Yeneskie, Mahanoy City resident.

“I don’t think it was right at all. I think she has the right to say what she wants to say, because like you said freedom of speech… Anybody can say what they have to say. And I don’t think she should be punished especially if she didn’t do anything to anybody,” said Mildred Perez, Mahanoy City Resident.

Brandi Levy and her father listened to the arguements Wednesday from their home.

“It’s very difficult to read which way they’re leaning but they had some really good questions they got some really good answers so I guess times going to tell where this is going to go,” said Larry Levy, father.

Brandi says she stands by her right to use social media to express feelings just over four years ago.

“I stand by using it to express it, because I feel the school was wrong to punish me for expressing my feelings,” said Brandi.

The Supreme Court has until the end of June to rule on the case.

Eyewitness News reached out to the attorney representing Mahanoy Area School District who declined comment.

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