Federal appeals court dismisses high school free speech case

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] Wednesday dismissed [PDF text] a lawsuit brought by Kentucky high school student Timothy Morrison against the Boyd County Board of Education [official website] over a 2004 policy that banned Morrison and other students from expressing their opposition to homosexuality. Judge Deborah L. Cook [official profile], in a 2-1 ruling, said that Morrison failed to show he had been harmed by the policy prior to the school district repealing the policy and also that winning the lawsuit, which sought $1 in damages, would not rectify the issue. Morrison sued [ACLU press release] the school district over a now-repealed policy that required students to undergo anti-harassment training. The school district changed the policy to exempt speech that would ordinarily be protected under the First Amendment. Wednesday's ruling reverses an earlier decision [PDF text] by the same Sixth Circuit panel allowing the case to proceed. AP has more.

In another student free speech case, the US Supreme Court held last year in Morse v. Frederick [Duke Law case backgrounder; JURIST report] that public schools do not violate the First Amendment rights of students by sanctioning them for speech during a school-sanctioned activity that may be reasonably interpreted to promote the use of illegal substances. A high school student was suspended after he displayed a banner with the message "Bong hits 4 Jesus" during a televised parade on a school day. The student subsequently sued his principal, arguing that the principal unreasonably restricted his right to free speech.

 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.