Court Tightens Limits on Student Speech

Court Tightens Limits on Student Speech
Posted by CN Staff on June 25, 2007 at 11:54:18 PT
By Charles Lane, Washington Post Staff Writer
Source: Washington Post 
Washington, DC -- The Supreme Court affirmed wide authority for school administrators to regulate students' speech today, allowing principals to punish pupils who make any in-school speech or demonstration that may "reasonably be viewed" as promoting illegal drug use.The finding came in a case in which a Juneau public high school teacher gave Joseph Frederick a 10-day suspension for unfurling a banner reading "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" as the school was gathering outside to watch the Olympic Torch Relay pass in 2002. Joseph, who has since graduated, sued the suspension was a violation of his constitutional right to free speech.
Though the Banner's message was admittedly ambiguous, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the court majority that the school's principal, Deborah Morse, was not wrong to conclude that it promoted the use of an illegal substance, which was contrary to the Juneau school system's policy.The dangers of illegal drug use are "serious," Roberts wrote, and the "First Amendment does not require schools to tolerate at school events student expression that contributes to those dangers," Roberts wrote.Roberts' opinion was joined fully by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. Justice Stephen G. Breyer agreed with the majority that Morse should not be liable, but disagreed with its reasoning.Justice John Paul Stevens, joined by Justices David H. Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissented.Stevens wrote that Frederick had raised a "nonsense banner," which advocated nothing, legal or illegal, and that the court's opinion could be read to permit broad censorship."[T]he court's ham-handed, categorical approach is deaf to the constitutional imperative to permit unfettered debate, even among high-school students, about the wisdom of the war on drugs or of legalizing marijuana for medicinal use," Stevens wrote.The case is Morse v. Frederick, No. 06-278.Source: Washington Post (DC)Author: Charles Lane, Washington Post Staff WriterPublished: Monday, June 25, 2007Copyright: 2007 Washington Post Contact: letterstoed washpost.comWebsite: Related Articles:Supreme Court Nixes 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus' Hits 4 Jesus in Smoke At The High Court
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on June 25, 2007 at 12:25:34 PT
Alaska Newsreader: Bong Hits 4 Jesus
Alaska Newsreader By Kyle HopkinsPublished: June 25, 2007 Put the banner down, son. The Associated Press, ABC News, Bloomberg and others report that the Supreme Court ruled against former Juneau high school student Joseph Fredericks in a case that centered on students’ right to free speech. Fredericks brought a 14-foot banner to an Olympic torch parade in 2002. In duct tape letters, the banner read: “Bong Hits 4 Jesus.” He was eventually suspended.Today, the Supreme Court ruled that schools can stop students from saying things that appear to encourage drug use, according to the AP. The Juneau school board, which had hired Ken Starr (yes that Ken Starr), and the principal had appealed a lower court ruling that favored the student. ***Complete Article:
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