BONG HiTS FOR JESUS Revisited
In June, the Supreme Court ruled against a student’s First Amendment challenge to his discipline for displaying, off school grounds, a cryptic banner that read “BONG HiTS FOR JESUS.” I have now published a short law review article in the Cato Supreme Court Review explaining why the Court was wrong to reject the student’s First Amendment claim and why its ruling in Morse v. Frederick was inconsistent with the logic of prior Supreme Court rulings. The Supreme Court was right, however, to dismiss the student’s demand for damages from the school principal, based on the concept of “qualified immunity,” since it was a fairly close case, as I explained earlier here and here.
The press by and large were rightly skeptical of the Supreme Court’s decision, on First Amendment grounds. But they were far less supportive of the First Amendment in another case decided the same day, the Wisconsin Right to Life case, in which the Supreme Court correctly limited the reach of federal campaign finance law over election-related speech. Some news stories covering the Wisconsin ruling were sour in tone and did not even mention that it was based on the First Amendment.
I commented on this double standard earlier. It may be that the press likes restrictions on election-related speech because of the fact that those restrictions selectively exempt the press. By exempting newspaper editorials, but restricting competing speech by independent advocacy groups, campaign finance restrictions enhance the relative influence of newspaper editorials over elections.
CEI did not file an amicus brief in the BONG HiTS FOR JESUS case, but it did file briefs in support of the winning side in Supreme Court cases striking down racial quotas and state banking regulations, which the Cato Supreme Court Review discussed here and here. CEI’s role in the racial quota case, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, and its court brief, are discussed in an earlier post, which noted the bizarre statements made by the Seattle Schools, such as claiming that individualism is a form of racism, that it is racist to expect minorities to plan ahead the way whites do, and that only whites can be racist. CEI’s brief in the Watters v. Wachovia banking regulation case is discussed in this post.