Hamptons Legal – The Daily Detail

News, Service & Small Practice Management

Bong Hits For Who?

Posted by pbsweeney on September 5, 2006

Kids, kids – whattaya gonna do?

Who among us is not rooting for the Supreme Court to take Ken Starr’s latest appeal, if only for the chance to hear the learned justices utter the words, “Bong Hits 4 Jesus.” Starr, the former Whitewater special counsel, petitioned the court last week to review the case, in which the Juneau, Alaska, School District suspended a high school senior who unfurled a banner bearing those words during an Olympic torch relay in 2002. The event was off school premises, leading the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rule in March that the suspension violated the student’s free speech rights. (Frederick v. Morse.)

The school district is fuming and the NSBA (National School Board Assoc.) has filed an amicus brief, as apparently it’s just too outrageous that students’ constitutional rights are not being violated more consistently. Ken Starr feels so strongly about it that he agreed to help Pro Bono.

Hats off to legal blogger, Robert Loblaw, who has discovered a parallel case (which he dubbed Bong Hits for Bush), that came down last week from the 2nd Circuit, Guiles v. Marineau. The case, he reports, involved a student whose school forced him to put duct tape over the front of an anti-Bush t-shirt that portrayed the president as a “chicken-hawk” drug and alcohol abuser. The 2nd Circuit said this violated the 13-year-old’s First Amendment rights. Loblaw explains:

“The Court explains that the school may have a permissible interest in censoring pro-drug and pro-alcohol messages. However, the t-shirt in this case was actually anti-substance abuse, since it attacked George Bush for using drugs and alcohol. Instead, the shirt bore a political message that was protected by the First Amendment. Accordingly, the student should not have been disciplined or forced to duct tape his t-shirt.”

As there is no split between these two circuits on the First Amendment rights of students, the Supreme Court will likely not hear Ken Starr’s appeal, but it sure is fun thinking about it.

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