Feature

Free speech 4 students?

The week's news at a glance.

Washington, D.C.

Does the First Amendment give a high school student the right to display a sign reading “Bong Hits 4 Jesus”? The U.S. Supreme Court took up that question this week, in a case that pits former student Joseph Frederick against the Juneau, Alaska, school board, which is backed by the Bush administration. In 2002, Frederick unfurled the sign, which refers to a water pipe used for smoking marijuana, while students were watching the Olympic torch pass by. School authorities suspended him for 10 days. Former Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr, representing the school board, told the justices this week that schools can constitutionally limit speech that undermines their educational mission, which includes teaching about the dangers of drugs. But lawyers for Frederick said the sign is classically protected speech. Evangelical organizations have sided with Frederick, citing concerns that schools might limit religious speech. A decision is expected in June.

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