A Texas high school cheerleader who was kicked off the squad for refusing to chant the name of a basketball player - the same athlete she said had raped her four months earlier - lost a U.S. Supreme Court appeal Monday.
A federal appeals court ruled in September that the cheerleader was speaking for the school, not herself, and had no right to remain silent when called on to cheer the athlete by name.
The Supreme Court denied review of the case Monday without comment.
The girl, identified by her initials H.S., was 16 when she said she was raped at a party in her southeast Texas hometown of Silsbee in October 2008. She identified the assailant as Rakheem Bolton, a star on the Silsbee High School football team.
Bolton ultimately pleaded guilty in September 2010 to a misdemeanor assault charge and received a suspended sentence.
At a February 2009 basketball game in Huntsville, Texas, H.S. joined in leading cheers for the Silsbee team, which included Bolton. But when Bolton went to the foul line to shoot a free throw, H.S. folded her arms and was silent.
H.S. said the district superintendent, his assistant and the school principal told her she had to cheer for Bolton or go home. She refused and was dismissed from the squad.
H.S., joined by her parents, sued school officials and the district. They claimed the school had punished her for exercising her right of free expression.
An appeals court in New Orleans ruled against her, saying a cheerleader acts as a “mouthpiece” for the school.
Federal courts have also ordered H.S. and her parents to reimburse the district more than $45,000 for the costs of defending against a frivolous suit.
The family’s lawyer, Laurence Watts, said the ruling means students who try to exercise their right of free speech can be punished for refusing to follow “insensitive and unreasonable directions.”