“This is your Supreme Court. This is your Supreme Court on Drugs.” In Morse v. Frederick, 551 U.S. ___ (2007), some members of the Supreme Court revealed that they are on drugs. The facts in the case are inane. An undisputed adult (over 18 years of age) in Juneau, Alaska raised a vacuous sign to attract attention to him while some parade came through town. How distinctly American. DON’T TREaD ON ME or BONG HiTS FOR JESUS or something like that. What it says isn’t exactly clear. The Jesus reference must mean that it is a protected religious statement. “Big whoop,” was the typical reaction of most of the kids. The school principal reacted by over-reacting. Let the motivated lad experience his 15 seconds (or 1.5 seconds) of fame. Go on with life.
Not in America. Roberts is the fellow who employed a Republican baseball analogy when he bamboozled the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing. He talked about playing the role of an umpire and neutrally calling balls and strikes. He lied. In another decision issued today that involves the rights of the wealthy to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections, Umpire John announced that when the “First Amendment is implicated, the tie goes to the speaker,” Federal Election Comm’n v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc., 551 U.S. ___ (2007) (slip op., at 21) and that “when it comes to defining what speech qualifies as the functional equivalent of express advocacy…we give the benefit of the doubt to speech, not censorship.” ( Id. at 29). The tie, if it was even close, should have gone to the speaker in Juneau. Thomas makes some compelling statements about the lack of order, respect and discipline in schools today, but the observations have nothing to do with the case.
The Court expresses solicitude for the kids and their vulnerable adolescent sensitivities. What some of the Supremes are unable to fathom let alone even comprehend is that kids in their teens are especially sensitive to hypocrisy and dishonesty and condescension and arrogance in adults. Hypocrisy and dishonesty are among the very traits that define adulthood in America. The case allowed a few Justices with far too few life experiences to write essays revealing their fears and demons and anxieties. Dope is not good; booze is far, far, far worse. Don’t confuse the issues. It was a simple First Amendment case. Don’t be hypocritical and dishonest and condescending and arrogant. You are not paid by the word. The Ninth Circuit decision could have been upheld in a few paragraphs. The principal should have been afforded qualified immunity under the circumstances; running a school is a thankless task. The Court’s new First Amendment test is two-fold: 1) who is making the expression and 2) what is being expressed. That is not what the Founding Fathers intended.
Bumper sticker of the week:
Celebrate the right to give offense