Can A High School Control A Student's Off Campus Speech?

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by AAAintheBeltway, Mar 20, 2007.

  1. The High Court heard a fascinating First Amendment case regarding a high school student who went out of his way to annoy school administrators at an off campus but school-sanctioned event. The lineup of forces was also interesting. School administrators, parents groups and anti-drug campaigners were joined by the Bush administration, while the student was joined by conservative groups, among others. Once again, it appears the Bush administration is only too eager to sell out conservative principles, this time to give teachers and principals unbridled authority to censor and regulate students' speech.


    Principal acted correctly in suspension, court told
    March 20, 2007

    A high school principal was acting reasonably and in accord with the school's anti-drug mission when she suspended a student for displaying a "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner, her lawyer told the Supreme Court yesterday.
    "The message here is, in fact, critical," the lawyer, former independent counsel Kenneth Starr, said during a lively argument about whether the principal violated the constitutional rights of the student.
    On the other side, attorney Douglas Mertz of Juneau, Alaska, urged the justices to see the case as being about free speech -- not drugs.
    The dispute between Joseph Frederick, who in 2002 was a high school senior, and principal Deborah Morse has become an important test of the limits on the free-speech rights of students.
    Justice Stephen G. Breyer, addressing Mr. Mertz, said he is struggling with the case because a ruling in Mr. Frederick's favor could encourage students to go to absurd lengths to test those limits.
    A ruling for Mr. Morse, however, "may really limit free speech," Justice Breyer said.
    The Bush administration, backing Miss Morse, wants the court to adopt a broad rule that could essentially give public schools the right to clamp down on any speech with which it disagrees.
    Mr. Frederick was a high school senior in Juneau when he decided to display the banner at a school-sanctioned event to watch the Olympic torch pass through the city on its way to the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
    Miss Morse believed his "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner was a pro-drug message that schools should not tolerate. She suspended Mr. Frederick for 10 days. He sued her, and that case now is before the court.
    Mr. Frederick acknowledged he was trying to provoke a reaction from school administrators with whom he had feuded, but he denied that he was speaking out in favor of drugs or anything other than free speech. A bong is a water pipe that is used to smoke marijuana.
    "I waited until the perfect moment to unveil it, as the TV cameras [following the torch relay] passed," Mr. Frederick said.
    Miss Morse and the Juneau school district argue that schools will be powerless to discipline students who promote illegal drugs if the court sides with Mr. Frederick. Other school boards and anti-drug school groups are supporting Miss Morse.
    Mr. Frederick, now 23, counters that students could be silenced if the court reverses the appellate ruling. A wide assortment of conservative and liberal advocacy groups are behind Mr. Frederick.
    In a Vietnam War era case, the court backed high school student anti-war demonstrators who wore armbands to class. Since then, though, the court has sanctioned curtailing student speech when it is disruptive to a school's educational mission, plainly offensive or part of a school-sponsored activity like a student newspaper.
    A federal appeals court called Mr. Frederick's message "vague and nonsensical" in ruling that his civil rights had been violated. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also said Miss Morse would have to compensate Mr. Frederick for her actions because she should have known they violated the Constitution.
  2. This is a classic ACLU case. Didn't know that you were such a liberal.
  3. I don't trust teachers. The kid was off campus. They shouldn't have any control over him. What's next? Maybe he writes an editorial opposing a school bond referendum. Can they censor that as well?
  4. Turok


    This is a classic conservative case ... at least the conservatives I believe in.

  5. Check the ACLU website:
    It's true that there are a couple of Christian organizations on the same side as the ACLU. But most of the participants are your traditional liberal groups. Didn't the conservatives attack the ACLU precisely for bringing up suits in cases like this?
  6. American fascists are waving the flag with one hand while burning the Constitution in the other.

    Welcome to the New America, friend.

    A hollow, fake POS.
  7. This stuff is all instigated by teachers who want the kids to participate in the "national issues" class. Bunch of bs, the kids could care less about the issue as long as they have some bragging rights on myspace.

    The parents whose kid can't play soccer so his dad can sucker punch the coach, send their kids to school with profane slogans on their t shirts so they can kick the board of education in the pants with a lawsuit.

    Meantime, the kids graduates school and knows jack shiit about money/ finance. Booyah, dad can I borrow $20, I need to change my ringtone.

    For a short period of time I was annoyed with my parents for sending me to Catholic school till 6th grade, too many nuns with prejudicial teachings. Prejudice is alive and well in the public school. Crack me up when the teachers wore black when Bush won the election.
  8. Turok


    I'm not arguing this isn't also a typical "ACLU case". I'm presenting that it is a case we ALL should be supporting. It's not about the topic, it's about the principle.

  9. This isn't a liberal / consecrative issue. It is a free speech issue, thats all. Most everybody agrees that there should be some restrictions to free speech in the schools, how far the restrictions can go is the question. It has nothing to do with party affiliation or religion or liberal or conservative views. It is a constitutional issue.
  10. Actually the "message" on the kid's shirt was pretty innocuous.

    I'd be curious to the Left's reaction if the shirt said "nigger's suck" or a pic of Osama with the caption "holocaust has a Roman numeral."

    Some liberals like AAA are only supporting the kid's view because a. perceived anti-Christian message and b. an endorsement of illegal drugs. :D
    #10     Mar 21, 2007