A free-speech ruling from the Supreme Court is hailed as a win for a Pennsylvania woman who rudely expressed her disappointment at not making a high school varsity cheerleading team. But the ruling – that her school couldn’t constitutionally kick her off the team as a result – will not stem the torrent of crude, disrespectful discussion in American society, writes Nancy Costello, a Michigan State University scholar of free speech.

She notes that many people misuse the First Amendment not as a tool of civic engagement, but as a weapon to avoid consequences of toxic speech. Costello points to some trends, including growing reliance on social media, that are harming the country’s public discourse and explains why the Supreme Court is powerless to help.

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Jeff Inglis

Politics + Society Editor

A Supreme Court ruling on free speech does nothing about toxic online discourse. Francesco Carta fotografo/Moment via Getty Images

Free-speech ruling won’t help declining civil discourse

Nancy Costello, Michigan State University

A Supreme Court ruling about a student's free-speech rights won't stem the torrent of crude, disrespectful speech in American society.

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