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 Silver Lining in the Smoke?

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EricaCNPA

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Number of posts : 142
Age : 36
Registration date : 2007-06-13

PostSubject: Silver Lining in the Smoke?   Thu Jun 28, 2007 7:57 pm

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Many of the nation's free-speech advocates are focusing on what they call the silver lining to Monday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Morse v. Frederick.

The free-expression organizations that filed friend-of-the-court briefs are interpreting the ruling as a narrow exception to students' reaffirmed free-speech rights.

Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts wrote the 5-4 decision, which held that Juneau-Douglas High School Principal Deborah Morse did not violate student Joseph Frederick's free-speech rights when she confiscated his sign that read "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" during a school-sanctioned and school-supervised event.

"Because schools may take steps to safeguard those entrusted to their care from speech that can reasonably be regarded as encouraging illegal drug use, the school officials in this case did not violate the First Amendment by confiscating the pro-drug banner and suspending Frederick," Roberts wrote.

The dissent, written by Associate Justice John Paul Stevens and joined by Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter, warned that "the Court does serious violence to the First Amendment in upholding — indeed, lauding — a school's decision to punish Frederick for expressing a view with which it disagreed."

But First Amendment advocates are relying on Associate Justice Samuel Alito's concurring opinion, in which Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy joined, to ensure that the restriction does not extend to political speech. Adding Alito and Kennedy's votes to the three dissenters creates a fragile five-justice majority for rejecting a broad school censorship ruling.

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