Free Speech And (Un) Protected Speech

1122 Words5 Pages
Britney Randolph 2/23/2011 Dr. Dave Critical Writing II Free Speech and (Un) Protected Speech According to the Legal Dictionary freedom of speech is defined as the right to express information, ideas, and opinions free of government restrictions based on content and subject only to reasonable limitations (as the power of the government to avoid a clear and present danger). Then why is it when someone says something that is not a threat to anyone there is a problem? An example would be the case of Morse v. Frederick. In 2002, an 18 year old high school student by the name of Joseph Frederick was suspended by his school principal, Deborah Morse, because he displayed a banner that read “BONG HiTS 4 JESUS” across the street from the school during their 2002 Olympic Torch Relay. Even though the sign was being held across the street, technically off school property, Frederick was still suspended for five days because Morse believed that is was against the anti-drug policy of the school. After Frederick quoted Thomas Jefferson which led him to get a ten day suspension from school which he tried to appeal to the Juneau School Board who upheld the suspension. On April 25, 2002 Frederick filed a civil rights lawsuit against Morse as well as the school board claiming that they violated his federal and state constitutional right to free speech. He sought after a declaratory relief, injunctive relief, as well as monetary awards. The United States District Court for the District of Alaska dismissed Frederick’s case on summary judgment. The district court reasoned that Bethel School District v. Fraser governed Frederick’s school speech. Under this premise along with the given stipulated facts, Morse and the school board had not violated Frederick’s First Amendment rights because Morse had interpreted the flag as contravening the school’s policy on drug abuse prevention.
Open Document