In this installment, we provide an update on Joseph Frederick, the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" boy. (See 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus'.) In a nutshell, Joe fought the law and the law won.
As you may recall, Frederick and friends unfurled a 14-foot banner proclaiming "BONG HiTS 4 JESUS" as the Olympic torch was carried through the streets of Juneau, Alaska in 2002.
Joe's high school principal, Deborah Morse, confiscated the banner and suspended the youngster. The school district backed Morse so Frederick sued, asserting his free-speech rights had been violated. Joe lost the first case, but won on appeal in the Ninth Circuit. The principal appealed that ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court and was stoked by a gnarly decision Monday.
In Morse v. Frederick, a.k.a. Skinner v. Simpson, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against Joe, finding the following:
A principal may, consistent with the First Amendment, restrict student speech at a school event, when that speech is reasonably viewed as promoting illegal drug use.
In a consenting opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas poignantly argued:
It cannot seriously be suggested that the First Amendment "freedom of speech" encompasses a student's right to speak in public schools.
Students everywhere cheered Thomas' legal scholarship, realizing that they are no longer required to answer teacher questions in class.
— Michael Harris, Chief Analyst, Cable Digital News