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Supreme Court to hear First Amendment challenge

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] granted certiorari in three cases Friday, most notably Morse v. Frederick (06-278) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], which addresses whether a school board had the right to suspend a then-high school senior for holding a banner that read "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" away from school property while the Olympic torch made its way through Juneau, Alaska, en route to the Salt Lake City Winter Games in 2002. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled [opinion text, PDF] in March that the student, Frederick, could maintain a civil rights lawsuit against the school board and its principal under 42 USC 1983 [text] for their alleged violation of his First Amendment [text] rights. Former US solicitor general and Whitewater special prosecutor Kenneth Starr [Wikipedia profile] is representing the Juneau School Board and Principal Morse in their appeal to the high court.

The Supreme Court also agreed to hear [Order List, PDF] two additional cases Friday, namely Grace v. Freedom from Religion Foundation (06-157) [docket; cert. petition, PDF] and Wilkie v. Robbins (06-219) [docket; cert. petition, PDF]. These cases challenge federal support for "faith-based" religious initiatives and liability under the US Constitution and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) [text], respectively. AP has more. SCOTUSblog has additional coverage.

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