Morse vs. Fredrick

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On January 23, 2002, the students and faculty of Juneau-Douglas High School were permitted to leave class and attend the 2002 Olympic Torch Relay, which was held across the street from the school(Mears). Student Joseph Fredrick was late to class that day and met up with other classmate at the relay, waiting for the television cameras to point in their direction so they could unveil a banner. The banner they presented read “BONG HiTS 4 JESUS” and immediately the principal at the time, Deborah Morse, ran over and seized the banner from the students. After attempting multiple appeals to several school authorities, Joseph Frederick was suspended from attending class for 10 days for violating the school’s anti-drug policy. This later caused Frederick to file a civil rights lawsuit against the then-principal Morse and the school board, claiming that they violated the first amendment, the freedom of speech(Mears). The district court ultimately dismissed the case upon hearing the summary, ruling that because due to assumption the court interpreted the sign as infringing on the school’s anti-drug policy. Later the Ninth Circuit reversed the rulings of the district court, ruling that because Frederick was not on school grounds at the time of the incident, the school might have not been able to restrict his freedom of speech. The case was then reviewed by the Supreme Court, and after much oral debate, they ruled that the school board did not infringe upon Frederick’s rights of the first amendment, in that because he was a “a school event” the school still had authority over his use of language and that the Frederick’s banner “promoted the use of drugs”, thus violating the school’s anti-drug policy. This case lasted a span of five years, so you can only imagine how much debate went on in between that time frame. You can also only imagine how many opinions there are about such a prolonged case. A prime example would be from the debate in our class. After you introduced the...
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