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U.S. Supreme Court to decide Alaska case

  Court Watch  -   POSTED: 2007/03/17 17:54

The Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday in the case of Joseph Frederick, the Alaska high school student who was suspended for displaying a "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner. Other cases involving students' First Amendment rights are making their way through the courts:

- In Vermont, middle school student Zachary Guiles wore a T-shirt that used images of cocaine use and a martini glass to criticize President Bush. The shirt also called Bush "chicken-hawk-in-chief" and said he was on a "world domination tour."

School authorities said the shirt violated a dress code that bans clothing that promotes use of alcohol or drugs. Guiles taped over the images, sued and won rulings from lower federal courts. The Supreme Court has yet to act on the school district's appeal.

- In suburban San Diego, Tyler Harper was pulled from his class for wearing a T-shirt bearing the words "homosexuality is shameful." Harper said he wore the shirt after his school backed an event meant to show support for homosexuals, bisexuals and trans-gender students.

Harper sued the Poway Unified School District for violating his civil rights, contending he was suspended for expressing "sincerely held religious beliefs." The school said its dress code is designed to prevent disruption.

A federal judge upheld the policy and the same federal appeals court that sided with Frederick now is considering the case.

- A national Christian legal group sued a suburban Philadelphia school district on free-speech grounds, saying the district censors prayer club members and threatens discipline if students speak out against homosexuality.

The lawsuit filed by the Alliance Defense Fund accuses the Downingtown Area School District of improperly forcing a student group to drop explicitly Christian or Scriptural references from its literature, and to meet as the "Prayer Club" instead of the preferred "Bible Club."


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