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Unformatted text preview: Sheet1 Page 1 Education Week: Justices to Hear Student Free-Speech Case Search Subscribe Printer-friendly version E-mail this article Published: December 13, 2006 Justices to Hear Student Free-Speech Case & & Bong Hits 4 Jesus4 & banner could be basis for a landmark ruling. By Andrew Trotter A case on student freedom of speech that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide in its current term is potentially far-reaching, not least because it is the courtL s first foray into this area of school law in the Internet era. In accepting the appeal by the Juneau, Alaska, school district, the justices will decide whether a principal violated the First Amendment rights of a student who displayed a pro-marijuana banner at a school-sponsored parade across the street from the student ^ s high school. The court could clarify whether public school officials may bar students from displaying messages promoting the use of illegal substances, including at school-supervised events away from campus. And while the speech at issue in Morse v. Frederick (Case No. 06-278) was not itself high-tech, the court 4 s eventual decision may also bear on school administrators& authority to regulate other off-campus speech, such as by students on the Internet. & & All these kids are creating Web sites about their school districts, from funny to threatening ones,4 & said Christopher B. Gilbert, a lawyer at Bracewell Giuliani, a Houston law firm that represents many districts. & & School districts want the Supreme Court to talk about what effect the speech has to have on the school& s program before the school can actually take action based on this speech. ^ The justices accepted the case on Dec. 1, after considering it at five separate private conferences since October&& an unusual pattern of internal debate on a case. In January 2002, Joseph Frederick, who was then 18, was in a crowd with other students and onlookers watching a community parade in advance of the Winter Olympics in Salt ake City that year. They were standing on a sidewalk across the street from the school he attended, Juneau-Douglas High School. As runners carrying the Olympic torch passed by, with television cameras swiveling toward them, Mr. Frederick and some other students held up a banner that read n 1 Bong Hits 4 Jesus.& & Principal Deborah Morse, who was supervising the students with other school faculty, saw the banner and snatched it away from Mr. Frederick, according to court papers. The principal later suspended the student for 10 days. Ms. Morse said she grabbed the banner because it contradicted the school1 s anti-drug messages, according to court papers in Mr. Frederick& & s lawsuit against the principal and the 5,300-student Juneau school district....
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