Bong Hits for Jesus

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Topic Question

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Do public school administrators have the authority to limit the right of thier student's free speech? Specifically, was prinicpal Morse justified in suspending student Joseph Fredrick for displaying a banner that read "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" in front of other studnts?

Potential Arguments, Structures, and Sources

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Argument 1: II. Fredrick Joseph's suspension was injust A. He was not on school grounds when he displayed the banner B. School was not in session when he displayed the banner C. The Tinker case (1969) asserted that “students do not shed their constitutional rights at schoolhouse gates (LA Times)” 1. Has allowed students to wear controversial tee-shirts and other clothing with messages from “praise the lord” to “Islam is terrorism” (LA Times) 2. The Tinker case also asserts that a principle does not have the authority to regulate a student’s free speech D. Some believe that regulation on Fredrick’s free speech could open the gates for an increased regulation on a student’s free speech (NY Times, “A Student’s Letter”) Argument 2: III. Ms. Morse exercised the proper authority in suspending Fredrick A. Her actions were in accordance with the school’s anti-drug policy B. Although off school grounds and outside school hours, Fredrick waved the banner at a school sponsored field-trip C. Many believe her actions were necessary to promote a non-disruptive learning environment for her students (Wall Street Journal) D. Fredrick admits his sole purpose in displaying the message was to pull off a prank and gain television exposure (he was not trumpeting a noble cause) (Seattle Times) Argument 3: IV. Joseph's suspension was injust due to a technicality. (Otherwise it could have been legitmate) A. He was not on school grounds when he displayed the banner B. He skipped school on the day of the fieldtrip 1. Technically, he was not in school 2. Administrators are not allowed to assert authority over thier students durring the school day

Research for Bong Hits for Jesus (Morse v. Frederick)

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Alfino 09:58, 22 March 2007 (PDT)

[Links Page for this case] Alfino 21:53, 12 April 2007 (PDT)

Press attention on the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case heard by the US Supreme Court last week focused almost exclusively on free-speech issues for high school students while they are in school or involved in school activities. And, while the justices may well issue a narrow ruling one way or the other, the possibility exists that their decision will reverberate into the online world; in particular, it may help establish guidelines for school officials who have or have been tempted to clamp down on what their students say and post on social-networking sites, such as MySpace.

'Bong hits' case may reverberate online 

Paul McNamara. Network World. Framingham: Mar 26, 2007.Vol.24, Iss. 12; pg. 46, 1 pgs [[1]]

-Kate and Katie

This article gives a good overview of the case. Explains the arugment of the principle-- that she suspended Joesph Fredrick because his banner promoted drug use, and the argument of Fredrick--that he was exercising his 1st amendment right of free speech. Justices hear case of teen's banner STUDENT CLAIMED RIGHT TO DISPLAY `BONG' SIGN AT EVENT By David G. Savage Los Angeles Times Article Launched: 03/20/2007 01:42:30 AM PDT [[2]]

-Kate and Katie

Seattle Times In 2002, 18-year-old senior Joseph Frederick stood across the street from his high school and unfurled a 14-foot banner that read "Bong Hits 4 Jesus." Frederick invoked his First Amendment right to free speech. An unamused principal, unable to maintain a cool head, ripped up the banner and suspended him, in part for using the word bong, interpreted as defiance of the Juneau, Alaska, school's anti- drug message.

Also names several cases related to this one.

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In defense of students' free speech rights

In its 1969 Tinker vs. Des Moines decision upholding the right of students to express themselves -- so long as the speech doesn't pose a threat of "substantial disruption" -- the high court overturned the suspensions of some Iowa students who had worn black armbands to protest the Vietnam War. Monday's oral arguments concerned a less high-minded expression of opinion: a banner waved by a Juneau, Alaska, student that said: "Bong Hits 4 Jesus."

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Basic summary of the case

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YOUTUBE VIDEOS about the case! Watch a couple of them... they give a lot of good insights and visuals that the articles don't have.


From the Wall Street Journal- talks about the point of view of the Supreme Court justices. [[4]]

Commentary on the case, kind of funny... gives actual lines from the Supreme Court hearing. [[http:// ]]

This gives author maintains that Joseph's actions in displaying the banner are protected under the first ammendement. A ruling against him, he says, would be comproable to a ruling against religious groups trying to freely express thier views. Interesting comparison...


This one is excellent: talks about Bush's stance on the case and all the groups that are siding with Frederick. Free Speech Case Divides Bush and Religious Right [?did=1236207561 &sid=1 &Fmt=3 &clientId=10553 &RQT=309­&VName=PQD]

SUPREME COURT transcript! so difficult to find :)


Other cases regarding student free speech:

Bethel v. Fraser [[7]]

Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier [[8]]

Link to documents from ACLU website... statements from groups that support Frederick. Very helpful!! [[9]]

Press release and statements from Frederick [[10]]

Summary of Tinker v. Des Moines [[11]]