The U.S. Supreme Court generally only hears about 10% of the cases that reach the high court, and when the justices turn down a case, it’s not a reflection on the merits of the appeal.

That said, a Texas high school cheerleader deserved to have her case heard. (thanks to G.R. for the heads-up)

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.

Got that? School officials demanded that a teenage girl cheer on her accused rapist. When she refused, they expelled her from the team, while the player, a local star athlete in a sports-obsessed town, was allowed to stay on his team.

The schools’ parents filed suit, arguing that the cheerleader maintained the right of free expression, and had the right to remain silent rather than chant the name of her attacker.

Marie Diamond explained what happened next:

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the most conservative courts in the country, ruled last November that the victim — who is known only as H.S. — had no right to refuse to applaud her attacker because as a cheerleader in uniform, she was an agent of the school. To add insult to injury, the Fifth Circuit dismissed her case as “frivolous” and sanctioned the girl, forcing her family to pay the school district’s $45,000 legal fees.

The mind reels.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.