Pubdate: Sun, 01 Jul 2007
Source: Huntsville Times (AL)
Copyright: 2007 The Huntsville Times
Author: Hugh McInnish
Note: Hugh McInnish, a former candidate for Congress, a conservative 
activist and publisher of and
Bookmark: (Bong Hits 4 Jesus)
Bookmark: (Students - United States)


Alaskan Principal Had Every Right to Punish Errant Teen

Well, the U.S. Supreme Court has done it again. It has reached another
of its all too-rare correct decisions!

In 2002, the Olympic Torch Relay passed through Juneau, Alaska en
route to its destination at Salt Lake City. As it passed
Juneau-Douglas High School, the students, with permission of the
school officials, had lined the streets to see the procession. At a
chosen moment, Joseph Frederick, a student, suddenly unfurled a
15-foot banner reading "Bong Hits 4 Jesus."

Deborah Morse, the principal, ordered the banner removed, confiscated
it when the student refused, then suspended him. And it went from there.

Where it went from there was through the administrative system of the
school, through the lower courts - and finally, five years after the
incident - through the highest court in the land.

Student Frederick, of course, claimed that his First Amendment rights
of free speech had been violated, and he brought suit

The court agreed that since a "bong" is a device for smoking
marijuana, the banner was generally seen as a message either
advocating the use of illegal drugs or of celebrating their use.

The justices ruled that since the students were at a school-sanctioned
event, the principal and her teachers had the responsibility for
supervision and safety. And since the banner advocated illegal
behavior, she certainly was within her authority to order it removed.

Well thank goodness! But the court made their ruling extremely narrow
when they said that it applied specifically and only to the advocacy
of illegal drug use. It would have been better if it had been broader.

And by the way, to just how much freedom of speech are high-school
students entitled? They are not yet adults, and certainly haven't
acquired their full civil rights. They cannot, for instance, make
contracts, and few of them can vote.

To insist that teenagers' freedom of speech be unbridled, even
allowing drug advocacy at school-sponsored events - as the four
justices in the minority apparently believe should be done - is poor
policy and poor law.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake