After four years of waiting for a Supreme Court hearing and a month for the verdict to be published, Brandi Levy has finally won her case.
A Voice article published in May details the story of a 14-year-old Levy posting a profanity-ridden Snapchat expressing her frustrations about not making the varsity cheer team that stated, “F*** school, F*** softball, F*** cheer, F*** everything.” Although Levy’s post didn’t target anyone or anything specifically, her high school made the decision to ban her from the cheer team for a year.
Levy’s parents chose to challenge these actions of her school legally in the lower district court, and after winning there were taken by the school to the Supreme Court. What was to be decided by the Supreme Court was whether the actions by Levy’s school violated her first amendment right. In the end, it was ruled they had. On June 23, the breaking news hit, the Supreme Court sided with Levy in an 8 to 1 vote.
It has been 50 years since such a case has been tried and won. This case is a victory for all students attending public schools across the country. Levy acknowledges the ripple effects her win has and says, “The win wasn’t only specifically towards me, but it is also helping out millions of other students that also go to public schools.”
In Levy’s case, the Supreme Court emphasized the importance of free speech in schools, particularly Justice Stephen Breyer. Justice Breyer spoke about the value of free speech and the responsibility that schools have to uphold that value. The tone of the Supreme Court was that Levy’s school overreacted in their response to her social media post. The school’s punishment of Levy, suspending her for a year from cheerleading, was not justified.
When asked if Levy had any advice for students feeling scared or nervous to voice their opinions or criticisms of their school systems; Levy replied, “People need to know it’s okay to express themselves and shouldn’t have to be scared or worried that their school is going to punish them for what they say and how they feel.”
Levy admits that when her case first started years ago she was afraid to say certain stuff and do certain things. However, now that she has won her case and student free speech is again recognized as protected speech, Levy says she feels a lot safer. We should all feel as Levy does, safer in voicing our frustrations and expressing ourselves through words.