March 16, 2007
By Ken Krayeske • Hartford • 7:00 PM EST
Four years ago today, an American-made Caterpillar bulldozer driven by an Israeli Defense Forces soldier drove over peace activist Rachel Corrie twice.
The founders of the International Solidarity Movement, whom she was volunteering with, remember it as a black day. She was acting as a human shield to stop the demolition of the the house of the Palestinian Dr. Samir Masri.
No one has ever been charged in her death, and the Israeli investigation was along the same lines of one Alberto Gonzales would do on himself.
On Monday, attorney Ken Starr will argue before the Supreme Court that high school principals have the right to discipline students who are not on school grounds in the case Frederick v. Morse. I'll be at the Supreme Court for that one, also known as the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case.
Starr is representing defendant high school principal Deborah Morse of Juneau, Alaska. In January 2002, plaintiff Joe Frederick was a senior at Juneau-Douglas High School.
On the day in question, Frederick's car was stuck in the snow in his driveway, so he missed school. But it didn't matter because it was a half-day, as school let out early so students could participate in that morning's Olympic Torch Relay celebration, sponsored in part by Coca-Cola.
But Frederick arrived in time for the relay, and a dozen or so friends stood across the street from the school. The moment torch runner passed through and tv cameras were rolling, Frederick and company unveiled a massive banner that said "Bong Hits 4 Jesus." Principal Morse, who no longer works at the school, walked off school property and tore the banner down.
She suspended Frederick for five days. When he protested about his free speech rights, she upped it to 10 days. Unruly students on school grounds who hurled snowballs and plastic Coke bottles escaped punishment.
Frederick sued in federal court under Tinker v Des Moines, the 1969 SCOTUS decision which granted students the right to engage in non-disruptive political speech. At some point in the future, I will have an interveiw with John Tinker.
Frederick lost at the district level, appealed, and won in the Ninth Circuit. The school district appealed, and the Supreme Court granted certiorari. If the Supremes agree with Starr, the precedent would extend the authoritarian power of schools into unknown reaches.
The last major school speech case, Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, decided in 1988, represented a major restriction on student rights. Justices Stevens and Scalia both voted in the majority on Hazelwood, and are the only remaining members from that court.