Sterling predicted that the Supremes will "both uphold and reverse" the Ninth Circuit ruling, by agreeing that the suspension was a violation of Frederick's rights, but reversing the finding that Morse could be held personally liable for damages. The Big Bench must not walk away from a 1969 ruling that upheld students' rights to wear black armbands to protest the Vietnam War, noting, "It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."
David Crosby, an attorney who represented Juneau schools early on, complained to the Anchorage Daily News that the "carefully manipulated image of Joe Frederick as a latter-day Thoreau" is "offensive and ludicrous."
Crosby has a point. Frederick won't even admit that "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" was a pro-marijuana message. Also, as the Anchorage Daily News reported, Frederick pleaded guilty to misdemeanor sale of marijuana in 2004. But if anyone has made Frederick into a civil-disobedience hero, it is Morse, who went overboard punishing a smart-aleck kid.
At first, she suspended Frederick for five days. Then, she upped it to 10 days -- she says, because he would not name his accomplices; he says, because he quoted Thomas Jefferson on free speech.
She could have tried to reason with the kid. Or she could have used adults' most potent weapon -- ignoring him. Instead, Morse gave the smart mouth the grounds to turn a prank into a federal case.
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