fbpx
Connect with us

Legal

The Internet Is Forever: High School Chearleader’s Snapchat Forces SCOTUS Re-Evaluation of ‘Tinker’

PENNSYLVANIA – Right now, our legal landscape is faced with arguably, one of the most important legal questions to date, involving a high school student’s decision to post to Snapchat, a photo of she and her friend rebelling against the education system in a ‘snap.’

To all the state, appellate, and federal-level courts across the United States, the internet is forever. If you haven’t accepted it, it’s time, Neo.

Unfortunately, what our courts have a difficult time understanding is that whether they like it or not, they are going to have to eventually address how traditional legal precedent can live peacefully in today’s digital age.

In 2017, Brandy Levy, a 14-year-old Pennsylvania high school student and member of the varsity cheerleading team, took to social media one Saturday, posting a picture of herself and a friend on Snapchat with their middle fingers raised, along with the caption “Fuck school fuck softball fuck cheer fuck everything,” all off-campus.

The question of whether using Snapchat off-campus to engage in speech directed at the school falls under the Tinker holding from 1969, is back for re-examination.

While Snapchat’s ‘snaps’ technically last for 24-hours, another cheerleader from Levy’s team took a screenshot of Levy’s snap and showed it to a cheerleading coach. Apparently, the cheerleading coaches met, determining that Levy’s snap “violated team and school rules,” resulting in Levy’s suspension from the cheerleading team for a year.

Levy: “Off-Campus Speech Doesn’t Fall Under Tinker

In response, Levy and her parents took the suspension to federal court in Pennsylvania, arguing that Levy’s suspension violated the First Amendment, pursuant to Tinker, a 1969 landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that ruled public school officials can regulate speech that would “substantially disrupt the school’s work.”

READ: Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969)

The federal district court agreed with Levy, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit upholding that decision. The court of appeals rejected the school board’s argument that Tinker applies to speech by students that “occurs off campus.”

School District: “The Internet Has Blurred Distinction Between ‘On-Campus’ and ‘Off-Campus’; We Have Power to Regulate Speech Directed at School, Wherever It Originates”

Last summer, the school district went to the Supreme Court, asking the justices to weigh in. The Justices agreed to hear the case Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. in January 2021.

This case will very likely become a landmark decision on student speech on and off campus, as well as the role social media platforms like Snapchat play.

“This is the most momentous case in more than five decades involving student speech,” said Justin Driver, a Yale law professor and author of “The Schoolhouse Gate: Public Education, the Supreme Court, and the Battle for the American Mind,” in a statement to The Washington Post.

“Much of the speech from students is off-campus and increasingly online,” Driver said. “When I talk to school administrators, they consistently tell me that off-campus speech bedevils them, and the lower courts desperately need some guidance in this area.”

In its arguments, the school district argues that this case is challenging because the Internet has blurred the distinction between on-campus and off-campus speech. However, the schools should have the power to regulate speech that is directed at the school and disrupts the school environment, wherever it originates.

The First Amendment does not “force schools to ignore student speech that upends the campus environment simply because that speech originated off campus,” says a brief filed by Mahanoy Area School District, which upheld the school’s decision to kick Levy off the cheer squad.

The epidemic of online bullying and harassment is one that legislators and courts continue to struggle with, horrifically. For far too long, our courts have avoided creating new laws that could forever change the parameters of the First Amendment and Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.

Snapchat In Hot Water Following Recent Federal Lawsuit For Failing to Protect Users

On Wednesday, Snap, Inc., the parent company to Snapchat suspended the popular question-answering apps, YOLO and LMK from its platform after being named in a federal lawsuit on Monday following the death and suicide of a 16-year-old teenager back in June 2020.

Filed in the Northern District of California, the federal lawsuit was brought by Kristin Bride, the mother of Carson Bride, a 16-year-old who was targeted online for many months through the YOLO and LMK apps, and co-plaintiff The Tyler Clementi Foundation, a nonprofit antibullying organization created by Jane Clementi, mother and voice to Tyler Clementi, who in 2010, took his own life and jumped off The George Washington Bridge after his roommate exposed him publicly for being homosexual.

READ: ‘YOLO’ Following Suicide of 16-Year-Old Teen, Snap Removes 2 Messaging Apps from Platform After Being Named in Recent Federal Lawsuit

Now is the time for online users, which include our very own Supreme Court Justices, to understand that the Internet is here and there’s no running from it. It surrounds us.

It is, as Morpheus once told Neo, the “desert of real.”

Andrew Rossow is the Legal Editor and Strategy Operations Advisor at Disrupt Magazine. Wearing many hats, Rossow is a licensed attorney, adjunct law professor, journalist, and anti-bullying activist, who has successfully bridged the worlds of law and media together, without ethical conflict. He is the CEO and President of AR Media Consulting and the co-founder of The Guardian Project, alongside TV actor, Mark Pellegrino (13 Reasons Why, Supernatural, Lost, Dexter). Rossow found his way to success at 26-years-old after a legal thesis went viral on the legalities mobile AR gaming, like Pokemon Go, has on the average user. He has since written for notable outlets, including, but not limited to HuffPost, Forbes, Bloomberg Live, and The Today Show. He created the #CYBERBYTE Movement, a PSA movement where Hollywood and Silicon Valley join together to spread awareness within their own fan-based communities on how to practice better digital hygiene. Rossow and his work have appeared regularly on CHEDDAR TV, ABC, FOX, CBS, and NBC affiliate networks throughout the U.S. He has been recognized by Entrepreneur and Fast Company for his journalistic integrity in helping build out and grow media outlets, formerly Grit Daily News.

Advertisement Become A Crypto Expert

Join Disrupt Magazine

Become A Crypto Expert
Become A Disrupt Contributor

Most Disruptive

Entrepreneurship4 months ago

Navy Veteran Davis Chris Takes the Music Industry by storm

In life, you need to break down anything that might be holding you back and change course if need be...

Entrepreneurship4 months ago

5 Disruptive Leaders Paving the Way in 2021

Where there is uncertainty, lies a whirlwind of opportunity. 2020 was the year that had entrepreneurs learn a great deal...

Politics11 months ago

Brock Pierce Wants To Disrupt The Two Party System And Be Your Next President

We don’t usually cover politics much here at Disrupt, but when Crypto billionaire and friend of the show, Brock Pierce...

Business1 year ago

John Mcafee – Predictions For The Future

John McAfee is a world-famous tech CEO, computer scientist, civil disobedience activist, privacy advocate, and pioneer of the commercial anti-virus...

Finance1 year ago

Gaby Wall Street – Teaching Latinas to Thrive During The Crisis

It’s no secret we are facing one of the most challenging financial times of the last few decades as we...

Entrepreneurship1 year ago

Tony Delgado – The #1 Entrepreneurship Movement In Puerto Rico

Puerto Rican online market is in constant progress. With many entrepreneurs who are coming here to start a business, it...

Entrepreneurship1 year ago

Elena Cardone – The 10X Ladies Conference Is Declaring 2020 The Decade For Women

The next ten years are meant for women to continue growing their potential and succeeding in multiple areas, including business....

Marketing2 years ago

How Josh Elizetxe Built Snow Into a $40 Million Dollar Business

There is nothing quite like an entrepreneur’s determination when starting a business. That’s my original quote by the way (pun...

Entrepreneurship2 years ago

How Jason Capital Became A Self Made Millionaire By 24

Have you ever wanted to earn the respect of everyone who ever looked down on you at some point in...

Entrepreneurship2 years ago

Sam Bakhtiar On His Way To A Quarter Billion

Dr. Saman Bakhtiar, who prefers being referred as Sam, lives in an 8200 square foot $5.2 million house, Sam is...

Trending

Copyright © 2020 Disrupt ™ Magazine - Disrupt is a Minority Owned Privately Held Company

Disrupt ™ is the voice of Latino entrepreneurs around the world. We are part of a global movement to increase diversity in the technology industry and we are focused on using entrepreneurship to grow new economies in underserved communities around the world. We enable millennials to become what they want to become in life by learning new skills and leveraging the power of the digital economy. We are living proof that all you need to succeed in this new economy is a landing page and a dream. Disrupt tells the stories of the world top entrepreneurs, developers, creators, and digital marketers and help empower them to teach others the skills they used to grow their careers, chase their passions and create financial freedom for themselves, their families, and their lives, all while living out their true purpose. We recognize the fact that most young people are opting to skip college in exchange for entrepreneurship and real-life experience. This Podcast was designed to give them a taste of that.