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What the Supreme Court's 'cursing cheerleader' decision means for students' free speech rights

In an 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with "cursing cheerleader" Brandi Levy, who was suspended from her cheerleading squad after sharing an off-campus, profanity-laced Snapchat criticizing both her Pennsylvania high school and her team, The New York Times reports.

By removing her from the cheer team, the school district violated Levy's First Amendment rights, the majority determined in the biggest student speech case "to land before the Supreme Court in 50 years," the Times and CBS News report. Only Justice Clarence Thomas dissented.

Notably, the ruling failed to adopt "clear cut" guidelines that justify a school's interference in student speech when off grounds. Instead, the majority opinion penned by Justice Stephen Breyer purports that while public schools may have "special interest" in regulating off-campus speech, the "special interests" offered by the school in this particular case were not enough to overcome Levy's "interest in free expression."

The Court was, however, sure to reject the idea that schools can never regulate off-campus speech, especially in instances of "serious or severe bullying," threats, and "breaches of school security devices," a defection from a previous decision in favor of Levy by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that categorically barred schools from regulating off-campus speech entirely, the Times reports.

Read more at The New York Times.