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Apparently the first amendment doesn't apply to schools.


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June 25 (Bloomberg) -- A divided U.S. Supreme Court put new limits on student speech rights, ruling against an Alaska high school senior who was suspended after hoisting a banner declaring ``Bong Hits 4 Jesus'' during an event in front of his school.

The justices said public school officials have broad power to curtail expression they see as undermining their efforts to educate students about the harms of illegal drug use.

``The First Amendment does not require schools to tolerate at school events student expression that contributes to those dangers,'' Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court.

The ruling is the court's first pronouncement on student speech rights in almost two decades. It creates a new exception to a 1969 Supreme Court decision that said school administrators generally can't restrict students from speaking out, as long as they aren't being disruptive.

Four justices -- Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito -- joined the entirety of Roberts's opinion. A fifth, Stephen Breyer, said the court should have ruled only that the student couldn't sue the school's principal for damages. Breyer said he would have stopped short of resolving the constitutional question.

A federal appeals court had said former student Joseph Frederick could pursue his lawsuit against principal Deborah Morse and the Juneau School Board. The lower court also concluded that Morse wasn't entitled to ``qualified immunity,'' a legal doctrine that shields government officials from having to pay damages unless they violate a clearly established right.

Olympic Torch Relay

Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented. Stevens said the court ``does serious violence to the First Amendment in upholding -- indeed, lauding - - a school's decision to punish Frederick for expressing a view with which it disagreed.''

Frederick, then 18, joined several friends in displaying the banner during the January 2002 Olympic torch relay, which passed by Juneau-Douglas High School during the school day. Frederick was among hundreds of students who were permitted to gather outside the school to watch the event.

Frederick, who hadn't been in class earlier in the day, was standing on a sidewalk across the street from the school. Morse told Frederick to take down the banner and, when he refused, confiscated it. She later suspended him for 10 days, and the school board upheld her decision.

Established Policy

``It was reasonable for her to conclude that the banner promoted illegal drug use -- in violation of established school policy -- and that failing to act would send a powerful message to the students in her charge,'' Roberts wrote. He also said the event was a school-sanctioned event even though Frederick wasn't standing on campus grounds.

Stevens, in dissent, said the school's anti-drug policy ``cannot justify disciplining Frederick for his attempt to make an ambiguous statement to a television audience simply because it contained an oblique reference to drugs.''

Frederick says the banner was meant to be funny and didn't convey any substantive meaning or advocate illegal drug use.

``It's a very strong message that we should be more understanding of the difficult situation in which school administrators find themselves,'' said Kenneth Starr, who argued the case for Morse and the school board. Starr is the former independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton.

Frederick's attorney, Douglas K. Mertz, said the ruling ``allows the censorship of student speech without any evidence that school activities were disrupted.''

Political Debates

Frederick was supported at the Supreme Court by an unlikely alliance that included the American Civil Liberties Union, gay- rights advocates and social conservatives who urged the court not to restrict students from voicing opinions on important social and political issues.

The Bush administration asked the court to give school administrators broad authority to punish students who advocate illegal drug use.

Roberts suggested the case might have been resolved differently had Frederick been involved in a political discussion, saying ``this is plainly not a case about political debate over the criminalization of drug use or possession.''

Alito, in a concurring opinion joined by Kennedy, said the ruling ``provides no support for any restriction of speech that can plausibly be interpreted as commenting on any political or social issue.''

The Supreme Court ruled in 1969 that school administrators couldn't bar students from wearing black armbands to protest the Vietnam War in a non-disruptive way. The court later said administrators can punish lewd or vulgar student expression and can regulate school-sponsored speech, including student newspapers.

The case is Morse v. Frederick, 06-278.

Source

The especially "wtf?!" parts are bolded for your convenience.

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``It was reasonable for her to conclude that the banner promoted illegal drug use -- in violation of established school policy -- and that failing to act would send a powerful message to the students in her charge,'' Roberts wrote. He also said the event was a school-sanctioned event even though Frederick wasn't standing on campus grounds.
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The first amendment doesn't apply to people under 18 anyway right? It's the same with corporations etc. It's sort of funny when people get angry about their "freedom of speech" being taken away when people try to censor corporations when the first amendment doesn't apply to them in the first place.

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A school is almost like your parents away from home. They are responsible for you, you cant walk around the school screaming fuck just like your parents might not let you at home. Pot is illegal and hoisting a banner saying that is probably one of the dumbest things i've ever heard. I think it's funny how all of a sudden people feel like their rights are being trampeled when if in the 1950s you said to your teacher to shush you'd get like 10 lashings from a yard stick.

THis kid deserves what he got for being such a tool.

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Uh, a school - even a public school - still operates in the same manners as a private organization, which would mean you knowingly (And if you didn't know, it's your own fault) submit to any rules or policies they've outlined.

I don't know how administrations enforce rules in Canadian schools, but in America the rules change frequently to suit the paranoia of parents who watch Dateline NBC.

EDIT: Oh, and we've also got the retarded Zero Tolerance Policy, which allows a school official to expel any student for the smallest offense, hell you can be expelled for watching a fight.

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I don't know how administrations enforce rules in Canadian schools, but in America the rules change frequently to suit the paranoia of parents who watch Dateline NBC.

EDIT: Oh, and we've also got the retarded Zero Tolerance Policy, which allows a school official to expel any student for the smallest offense, hell you can be expelled for watching a fight.

*shrug* I didn't say it's not retarded, just that when you pay the associated fees, you're agreeing to any terms or conditions outlined by the school. Which contrary to popular belief can violate some of your rights based on your own consent thereof.

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*shrug* I didn't say it's not retarded, just that when you pay the associated fees, you're agreeing to any terms or conditions outlined by the school. Which contrary to popular belief can violate some of your rights based on your own consent thereof.

Associated fees? Do you mean taxes?

If you're at a public school, then aren't the teachers government employees? And if the government employees are limiting your right to free speech, well, then they're violating the constitution.

That's how I think of it, anyway. The first amendment is probably my favorite.

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