If high school principals were more versed in constitutional rights, or could fathom the reprecussions of a cracking down on smart, active students, the Supreme Court would be much less exciting. Today the Supremes hear the student free-speech case, Morse v. Frederick, which came about when an 18-year-old Juneau, AK high school student, Joseph Frederick, unfurled a 14-foot-wide sign proclaiming "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" across the street from a high school assembly in 2002. All those details are important, including the fact that Frederick was 18, and located his protest off school property. But still the principal, Deborah Morse, who apparently had a long-simmering feud with Frederick, crossed the street to demand the removal of the sign, and when he refused, she trashed the poster and gave him a 10-day suspension (originally 5 days, but an extra 5 days were tacked on when Frederick shot back with some Jeffersonian words of protest).
This case has done something rare in First Amendment litigation: It has united both the ACLU and the ACLJ (Pat Robertson's Christian-friendly legal group) on the same side. Opposing Frederick, and arguing the brief for the school district, are Ken Starr, former special prosecutor of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, and the Bush administration.
I can't wait for the Nina Totenberg oral argument "play-by-play" later today, in which Ken Starr and Antonin Scalia debate the precise mean of the term "Bong Hits," and what the Founding Fathers would have thought of the matter.