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Free Speech in School

Page history last edited by Carol Hemmerly 5 years, 1 month ago

1. Complete the Test Your Knowledge of The First Amendment 10-minute quiz on the SPLC's website

     -This is not graded. It's just to get you to start thinking.


2. Now read Free-Speech Case Divides Bush and Religious Right, printed March 18, 2007 in The New York Times

     -This story is about a court case that ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court

     -After reading the story online, split into groups of 2-4 students and answer the following questions. I will collect one set of responses from each group on Tuesday.


1. What happened to cause the lawsuit and ensuing free-speech battle between Joseph Frederick and Deborah Morse?
2. Why might a principal, like Ms. Morse, be upset about the banner’s slogan “Bong Hits 4 Jesus”?
3. According to Mr. Frederick, why did he create this banner?
4. Why have some conservative religious groups taken Mr. Frederick’s side in this matter?
5. Why has the Bush administration taken the side of Ms. Morse and the school board?
6. Who is Kenneth Starr, and why is it notable that he is representing the school board and the principal, and doing so without charging a fee for his services? 
7. What does law professor Robert Destro mean when he says about the Bush administration’s position that “To the people who put them in office, they are making an incoherent statement”?
8. According to the article, how has the Supreme Court ruled before in cases in which school officials act against student dissidents?
9. Why do you think the court’s doctrine on student rights issues is not clear-cut?
10. What message does their mixed response to such cases suggest?
11. In your opinion, what should the principal have done?
12. In the article, law professor Douglas Laycock is reported as stating in an interview that “religiously observant students often find the atmosphere in public school to be unwelcoming.” Do you think the atmosphere in our school is inclusive, or do students feel marginalized because of their religious beliefs?
13. What other issues of free speech might come up in school settings?

14. Search the web (perhaps the SPLC website) and find out who actually ended up winning this court case. Who won the case? What was the court's reasoning?


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