Law & Courts A Washington Roundup

Court Urged to Back District in Speech Case

By Andrew Trotter — January 23, 2007 1 min read

The Bush administration argues that a school principal was justified in disciplining a student who unfurled a “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” banner at a parade near his high school’s campus, according to a friend-of-the-court filed in the U.S. Supreme Court last week.

The banner arguably advocated illegal drug use, and its display was inconsistent with the school’s duty to protect the health and safety of students and to maintain an effective learning environment, U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement argues in the brief filed in support of Juneau-Douglas High School Principal Deborah Morse and the Juneau, Alaska, school district.

They are appealing a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, in San Francisco, last year that the banner was student speech that was not plainly offensive or school-sponsored and that did not present a risk of substantial disruption of school.

The high court on Dec. 1 agreed to review the case in its current term, on an expedited schedule. The justices will hear arguments on March 19 in Morse v. Frederick (Case No. 06-278), the court announced last week.

A version of this article appeared in the January 24, 2007 edition of Education Week

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