Module 1 Brief
Case: Joseph Frederick vs. Public School, Deborah Morse
Statement of Facts: High school student Joseph Frederick attended a school-sanctioned event that was to be televised. Frederick and one other student held up a sign saying “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” and were asked by principal Deborah Morse to take down the sign as she thought it was against the school code. Frederick refused to do so, saying it violated his right to free speech. Morse then destroyed the sign and suspended both students. Frederick then sued the school district and Morse over the issue of freedom of speech. The case was given summary judgment by the District Court, giving Morse and the school board qualified immunity, which was reversed by the Ninth Circuit.
Issues: Did Frederick have a First Amendment right to have his “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” sign at the school-sanctioned event? If so, was his First Amendment right so clearly established that Morse could be held liable for damages?
Rule: To what extent freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment is questioned in this case. Since the school had the policy about not promoting drug use, should the First Amendment still protect Frederick?
Application: There were three previous cases regarding freedom of speech that the court looked at: Tinker, Fraser and Kuhlmeier. Tinker dealt with students protesting the Vietnam War with armbands, and the school had banned armbands. Since their protesting did not "materially and substantially disrupt the work and discipline of the school,” their First Amendment rights were indeed being infringed upon. In the case of Fraser, a student made a sexually explicit metaphor during a school speech, and the court ruled that the "School District acted entirely within its permissible authority in imposing sanctions upon Fraser in response to his offensively lewd and indecent speech." Since this action was disturbing to other students and not just silent protesting as in the case of…