Are you an Employer?    Attract the Best Candidates with Smart Job Postings! Search Legal Resumes
Legal Jobs Board for Attorneys, Law Students & Legal Staff | Serving USA & Other Countries | LawCrossing

Need Help? Call (800) 973-1177 

Job Seeker Login   Employer Login 

Job Seekers?  Try it Now  

ATTORNEY JOBS
LAW STUDENT JOBS
LEGAL STAFF JOBS
See Law Jobs We Have Recently Researched and Located for You
What Where
Show Recruiter Jobs  

Show Refreshed Jobs  



Search in Job Title Only
Job Type:
Employer Type:

+ Browse Legal Jobs     + Advanced Search     + Search Tips     + Upload Legal Resume
Legal Jobs >> Legal Articles >> Court Reporter >> BONG HITS THE HIGH COURT
  • Court Reporter

BONG HITS THE HIGH COURT


by      

What in the name of the First Amendment is going on here? The facts are not seriously in dispute: On Jan. 24, 2002, the Olympic torch was to be carried through the streets of Juneau on its way to Athens. The parade would pass by the Juneau-Douglas High School. Students were given time off to watch from the sidewalk.

At the climactic moment, young Joseph Frederick and his co-conspirators leaped to their feet from across the street. They had scarcely elevated their banner with its strange device before the high school principal, Deborah Morse, rushed into action. She lost her cool, tore down the banner, ordered Frederick to report to her office, and eventually suspended him for 10 days for publicly advocating the use of illegal drugs.

Naturally the lad sued for violation of his civil liberties. It's the American way. He lost at the trial level but won a resounding victory last March in the 9th Circuit. Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld spoke for a three-judge panel of the court. The law on student speech, he said, "is so clear and well-settled that no reasonable government official could have believed the censorship and punishment of Frederick's speech to be lawful."

In this narrow field of First Amendment law, the chain of precedent goes back to the Tinker case of 1969. Three students in a public school in Des Moines wore black arm bands to signal their disapproval of the war in Vietnam. In a resounding 7-2 division, the Supreme Court upheld their right of free speech. Subsequent cases, involving a variety of student speech on school premises, have created an area of constitutional law of remarkable clarity.

Unlike these precedents, the pending case from Alaska offers not a single issue worthy of review in the high court. The "speech" at issue (1) was not on school premises, (2) did not disrupt a school function, (3) did not involve students wearing T-shirts with a scatological message, and (4) had nothing to do with school-sponsored publications. Young Frederick was not even cutting a class. He was doing what comes naturally to high-spirited teen-agers. I should know: Once upon a time I was one.

Everything about this case is unsettling. Ms. Morse and the Juneau School Board are represented in part by Kenneth W. Starr, the former solicitor general. He's now a hired gun, to be sure, but even so: What's a nice guy like Ken Starr doing in a case like this? In his petition for review, he even asked for summary reversal!

Among the supporting briefs on behalf of the Juneau school board is a brief signed by William J. Bennett, a gentleman who has served the country ably as "drug czar" and secretary of education. Bill Bennett can't possibly believe that the 9th Circuit's "tortured application of the rules governing student speech will severely undermine our schools' ability to protect students from the grave dangers of drug abuse." Pish tush! He says the lower court's opinion "makes it difficult, if not impossible, for schools to address the cumulative effects of pro-drug advocacy." He must have been having a very bad hair day.

The National School Boards Association, for its part, whines that the ninth Circuit's opinion "creates an untenable chilling effect on the hundreds of thousands of administrators who are charged with maintaining order and discipline in our schools." Moreover, the opinion "promotes indecorous behavior by students." Well, mercy me! Indecorous behavior!

Bennett and Starr and other friends of the court who have filed supporting briefs are doubtless on sound ground in this respect: Teenage drug use, as they say, is indeed an "enormous national problem." They cite sobering statistics: "Twenty-one percent of eighth-graders have used drugs. Half of American high school students will have tried an illicit drug before they drop out or graduate." Sure, it's a problem.

But it is not a problem to be solved by trampling upon the First Amendment rights of teenagers blowing off steam on the cold streets of Alaska. I have no idea why the Supreme Court agreed to hear the school board's appeal in this pipsqueak case, but I know what the court ought to do with it now.

(Letters to Mr. Kilpatrick should be sent by e-mail to kilpatjj@aol.com.)

COPYRIGHT 2005 UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE

This feature may not be reproduced or distributed electronically, in print or otherwise without the written permission of uclick and Universal Press Syndicate.


Related Article
The case between Devil vs God and the First Amendment Law

Is God about to be expelled from the public schools of Florida, Alabama and Georgia? Maybe so, if the Supreme Court lets a lower court's opinion stand in a case appealed by Sharah Harris' mom. ....

The High Court's Star Attorney: The Kid

Meet Tom Goldstein, Supreme Court advocate extraordinaire, age 31. Just one question, Tom: What does a boy wonder do for an encore? ....

Not the High Court's Finest Hour

In the case of Richard Ceballos, the Supreme Court last week through indecision found decision out. The court held, in effect, that public servants must be granted power to serve the public through some orderly chain of command. It's hard to argue with that proposition. ....
Rate This Article
   Current rating: 10   |   View top rated articles

Printable Version    Printable Version PDF Version    PDF Version Email to a Friend    Email to a Friend
Comment    Post A Comment View Comment    View Comment Discuss    Discuss

Featured Testimonials

LawCrossing is a bundle of opportunities! I like the website and would definitely advise my friends on it.
Stephen

Facts

LawCrossing Fact #112: Every week, we feature the advice and observations of industry pros. Learn from their wisdom and move forward.

"We want to hear your thoughts. Please comment on this article (below)!"

Comments


Article ID: 2310    

Article Title: BONG HITS THE HIGH COURT

Comment not found for this article.

Comment Comment

Facebook comments:


total jobs
49,806
Upload Your Resume
New Legal Jobs in Last 7 Days
13,425
Facebook Twitter
job search tip
Always be organized. Maintain files of all companies you're interested in, ads you've responded to, letters you've written.
LawCrossing



The Job Search Program that Guarantees Success.
Our career counselor creates a tailor-made job search strategy for you and walks you through every step of the process.
Create your unique brand for just $2,495!
2014 Most Influential Legal Recruiter Rankings
Get the ranking

Your privacy is guaranteed. We will never give out, lease, or sell your personal information.


Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it, you will land among the stars.