Friday, March 16, 2007

ABC News: 'Bongs Hits 4 Jesus:' Student Protest Goes to Supreme Court

ABC News: 'Bongs Hits 4 Jesus:' Student Protest Goes to Supreme Court:

"Joseph Frederick, a student rebel halfway through his senior year of high school, tried the patience of his principal when he displayed a drug-referenced sign — Bong Hits 4 Jesus — at a public parade in Juneau, Alaska in 2002.

The 18-year-old had fashioned a 14-foot paper banner, which he held as the Olympic torch passed across the street from his high school on a national relay leading up to the 2002 winter games in Salt Lake City.

Frederick said he wanted to capture the attention of TV cameras — and the ire of his principal.

Principal Deborah Morse, who had previously disciplined Frederick for other acts of protest, confiscated the banner and suspended Frederick, sparking a feud that has gone all the way to the Supreme Court.

Monday, the court will hear arguments on Morse v. Frederick, in what legal experts say could be the most significant case on student free speech since the the days of Vietnam War protests.

At stake is the 1969 landmark ruling — Tinker v. Des Moines — which said that students do not 'shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.'

Since then, the court has narrowed that ruling, giving schools the right to censor speech to maintain order and protect students from harmful messages."