Morse v. Frederick: Facts of the Case

2012-10-14 23:59:02 by admin

Morse v. Frederick

Morse v. Frederick: The Court’s Ruling

The dispute in Morse arose when a principal suspended a high school student who, with friends, displayed a 14-foot banner reading “BONG HiTS [sic] 4 JESUS” as they watched the winter Olympics torch relay pass through Juneau, Alaska. The principal had allowed students and staff, who supervised the activity, to leave class to watch the relay as an approved social event. Although the student had not made it to school that day due to snowy weather, he positioned himself on a sidewalk across from the school. On seeing the banner, the principal destroyed it and suspended the student, because she thought that the sign advocated illegal drug use by smoking marijuana.

The federal trial court in Alaska rejected the student’s request for an injunction and damages in agreeing that the principal did not violate his First Amendment right to free speech. The Ninth Circuit reversed in favor of the student on the speech claim, adding that the principal was not entitled to qualified Immunity from personal liability for destroying the banner.