Monday, December 04, 2006

From the department of: Don't they have anything better to do?

posted by The Vidiot @ 5:56 PM Permalink

Supreme Court agrees to consider free-speech case

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a free-speech case from Alaska known as the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" dispute, in which a high school principal suspended a student for displaying that phrase on a banner.

The case, which hinges on the extent free-speech rights are afforded to students, drew national interest after former Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr took the case in August.
"The school boards and the administrators need guidance as to the appropriate line between the enforcement of existing and common school policies on one hand and the rights of students to engage in certain types of speech on the other hand," Starr said.

The controversy erupted in 2002 after Joseph Frederick, then a senior at Alaska's Juneau Douglas High School, displayed a banner proclaiming "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" while standing on a sidewalk across the street from the school as the Winter Olympics torch was passing through Juneau.

Then-Principal Deborah Morse confiscated the banner and suspended Frederick from school for 10 days.
Because the demonstration occurred outside the classroom and did not disrupt school activity, the school had violated the student's free-speech rights by punishing him, the appeals court found.

In the court opinion, Judge Andrew Kleinfeld wrote that "public schools are instrumentalities of government, and government is not entitled to suppress speech that undermines whatever missions it defines for itself."
He wasn't on school grounds, let me repeat, HE WASN'T ON SCHOOL GROUNDS! Sorry for the shouting, but it's bad enough that schools can tell students how to dress, what to write, what they can say, what they can think on school grounds, they just have no business in a student's life outside of school.

And if that wasn't enough, the justices took this case but turned down the case of a guy who got 55 years, that's YEARS!, for carrying a handgun during three 8 oz. marijuana sales. Even after four former attorneys general and 145 former prosecutors and judges wrote in support of a lighter sentence.*

* Hat tip to TalkLeft, a great site about the Politics of Crime.


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