The Supreme Court ruled in favor of a former high school cheerleader who argued that she could not be punished by her public school for posting a profanity-laced caption on Snapchat when she was off school grounds.
The 8-1 majority opinion was penned by Justice Stephen Breyer.
"It might be tempting to dismiss (the student's) words as unworthy of the robust First Amendment protections discussed herein. But sometimes it is necessary to protect the superfluous in order to preserve the necessary," Breyer wrote.
Breyer said that the court has made clear that students "do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression even 'at the school house gate."
"But," he said, "we have also made clear that courts must apply the First Amendment in light of the special characteristics of the school environment."
Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, writing that students like the former cheerleader "who are active in extracurricular programs have a greater potential, by virtue of their participation, to harm those programs."
"For example, a profanity-laced screed delivered on social media or at the mall has a much different effect on a football program when done by a regular student than when done by the captain of the football team. So, too, here," Thomas wrote.