Court Backs School On Speech Curbs

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A 5-4 Majority Cites Perils of Illegal Drugs In Case of the 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus' Banner
June 26, 2007


"The Supreme Court yesterday gave public schools new authority to regulate what students say, allowing principals to punish speech or demonstrations that may 'reasonably be viewed' as promoting illegal drug use.

"In its most significant ruling on student speech in almost two decades, the court said that the principal of a high school in Juneau, Alaska, did not violate senior Joseph Frederick's constitutional right to free speech when she suspended him for unfurling a banner reading 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus' as students waited for the Olympic torch relay to pass their school in 2002.

"...Lambda Legal backed Frederick out of concern that a ruling in favor of the principal might encourage administrators to prohibit students from openly declaring their gay, lesbian or bisexual orientation."