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The SCOTUS RATS Strike Again

June 25th, 2007 | by Jersey McJones |

The RATS (Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalia) got Breyer and Kennedy onboard to assail our rights as Americans once again. In a 6-3 ruling the highest court in the land said that a kid, outside of school, on a public walk, could be admonished and sanctioned by that school for raising a “sophmoric” banner that said “BONG HiTS 4 JESUS.”

This is the kind of “small government” “strict constructionism” we have come to expect from the sleazy cons.

Any Libertarian that votes GOP in the next 20 years would have to be functionally retarded.

(edit - later today)

Oh, and 527’s can do whatever the hell they want, and Faith Based Initiatives re constitutional! That’s the other two decisions today. Congratulations, stupid cons, you’ve pretty much wrecked the country forever.

JMJ

  1. 34 Responses to “The SCOTUS RATS Strike Again”

  2. By SteveIL on Jun 25, 2007 | Reply

    Ah, yes. The Supreme Court rules wisely, correctly, and, most importantly, constitutionally, and Jersey the Stalinist is pissed. What a great day!!! Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, the Adamses, and Madison are smiling right now.

    See, Jersey, the government does not dictate the 1st Amendment, although lazy leftist “liberals” would like it to do so since they can’t “sell” whatever it is leftists believe in; it is actually the other way around.

  3. By SteveIL on Jun 25, 2007 | Reply

    Jersey said [highlights in bold]:

    The RATS (Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalia) got Breyer and Kennedy onboard to assail our rights as Americans once again. In a 6-3 ruling the highest court in the land said that a kid, outside of school, on a public walk, could be admonished and sanctioned by that school for raising a “sophmoric” banner that said “BONG HiTS 4 JESUS.”

    Jersey, a lie of ommission, just like a lie of commission, is still a lie.

    Here’s the part Jersey conveeeeniently forgot, as seen by the beginning of the first sentence of the case syllabus:

    At a school-sanctioned and school-supervised event,…

    Very often, the Supreme Court has ruled to uphold school policy as it did in this case. Robert’s opinion cites several of these.

    Unlike Jersey, the CNN piece (with the bogus headline) did mention that the banner was displayed at a school-sanctioned event, although it did so on paragraph 12, even though the Supreme Court ruling mentions it right at the beginning.

    OT (sort of)

    The CNN piece is a class example of the leftist media in action, highlighting the supposedly curtailed freedoms instead of actually on the ruling itself and the case. At least there was a link to Roberts’ opinion. Of course, the article assumes the reporter’s opinions of free speech:

    The Supreme Court ruled against a former high school student Monday in the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” banner case — a split decision that limits students’ free speech rights.

    During the rest of the piece, the author never does explain how this opinion of his comes about, especially as he notes three paragraphs later:

    The justices ruled 6-3 that Frederick’s free speech rights were not violated by his suspension over what the majority’s written opinion called a “sophomoric” banner.

    “It was reasonable for (the principal) to conclude that the banner promoted illegal drug use– and that failing to act would send a powerful message to the students in her charge,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court’s majority.

    Nowhere in the quote, nor in Roberts’ opinion, do you see “limits on free speech”. Yet, the article’s author goes right back to editorializing in the following paragraph:

    Roberts added that while the court has limited student free speech rights in the past, young people do not give up all their First Amendment rights when they enter a school.

    By the way, here’s what Roberts actually said in his opinion:

    Our cases make clear that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School Dist., 393 U. S. 503, 506 (1969). At the same time, we have held that “the constitutional rights of students in public school are not automatically coextensive with the rights of adults in other settings,” Bethel School Dist. No. 403 v. Fraser, 478 U. S. 675, 682 (1986), and that the rights of students “must be ‘applied in light of the special characteristics of the school environment.’ ” Hazelwood School Dist. v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U. S. 260, 266 (1988) (quoting Tinker, supra, at 506). Consistent with these principles, we hold that schools may take steps to safeguard those entrusted to their care from speech that can reasonably be regarded as encouraging illegal drug use. We conclude that the school officials in this case did not violate the First Amendment by confiscating the pro-drug banner and suspending the student responsible for it.

    A terrible article, but typical of the leftist bias in the media today. Articles like this are the rule, not the exception.

  4. By Jersey McJones on Jun 25, 2007 | Reply

    Okay, SteveIL, show me the constitutionality of these rulings. First, we have a kid with a banner saying a dead man from 2000 years ago should take a bong hit of whatever - outside of school grounds, then we have it that it’s now okay to give taxpayor money to churches, and the government can not make any rules regarding elections. And you, an idiot, think those are constitutional decisions - let alone wise and correct.

    Man, you just can’t face the failure of your ideology, huh?

    JMJ

  5. By Jersey McJones on Jun 25, 2007 | Reply

    Nice try, SteveIL. It was on a PUBLIC F’N SIDEWALK. And what if it had been an adult? Or what if it was a kid from a different district.

    Look, you may be so extremely cowardly and insecure that you need a Big Mommy state to be your authority. Why don’t you just move to China. They’ll make you feel better.

    JMJ

  6. By Ron on Jun 25, 2007 | Reply

    “In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens said, “This case began with a silly nonsensical banner, (and) ends with the court inventing out of whole cloth a special First Amendment rule permitting the censorship of any student speech that mentions drugs, so long as someone could perceive that speech to contain a latent pro-drug message.”

    I have to agree with Stevens here, you’d have to be pretty out of it, an honest to god clueless square and a half to construe this as a pro-drug message or one that encourages drug use- it’s nothing but a dumb non sequitur, a frigging joke.

  7. By SteveIL on Jun 25, 2007 | Reply

    Jersey,

    Apparently, you didn’t read Roberts’ opinion, nor any of the cases he cited. Which makes sense since you neglected to put in the key to the reason why he ruled this way.

    I get that Mike Nifong is your kind of District Attorney, and that Roy Pearson is your kind of judge: losers. Fortunately, Roberts (and Scalia, and Alito, and Thomas, and sometimes Kennedy) are the best in America’s legal system, which is why they are on the Supreme Court.

  8. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 26, 2007 | Reply

    I am troubled by this decision, as I am by most restrictions on free speech. It does seem as though it is tightly restricted to speech that can reasonably be interpreted to promote illegal drug use and NOT to restrict speech that is political in nature, including speech that is critical of laws that criminalize possession of marijuana. That’s good. The problem is that it doesn’t seem terribly clear what that standard means. In what way could the sign “BONG HiTS 4 JESUS” reasonably be read to be promoting illegal drug use? Would a student who, on the basis of scientific evidence, said something to the effect “People should be allowed to smoke pot because it’s safer than alcohol and makes you feel real good” be (a) debating drug laws (possession of marijuana should be legal if possession of alcohol is legal) or (b) promoting illegal drug use? To me, it seems reasonable to conclude that the student is doing (a) and therefore should not be sanctioned but the decision doesn’t seem to draw a clear line. If the Principal of the above hypothetical student heard that statement as promoting illegal drug use, this decision allows that student to be punished as long as the Principal can convince a judge that his interpretation is reasonable.

    I’m very disappointed in this decision.

  9. By Jersey McJones on Jun 26, 2007 | Reply

    SteveIL…

    They’re the best!  They’re the best!  They’re the best in east or west!

    They’re the most!  They’re the toast!  They’re too good to even roast!

    They are tight!  Outta sight!  Their decisions always right!

    Man, are you one silly sycophant.

    Craig,

    So much for standing on this one, huh Craig?  When the court can’t use standing, they use ultra-narrow interpretation of statutes.  This court, as should be well evident to you now, is a pro-corporate, pro-authoritarian shill that will use any “narrow” interpretation is can squeeze out of the law, intent aside, to promote it’s coporate/authoritarian agenda.

    I said it before and I’ll say it again - if you vote for a GOP majority, and you are a Libertarian of any stripe, then you are functionally retarded. 

    JMJ

  10. By Ron on Jun 26, 2007 | Reply

    I’m of the mind to think this whole dumb thing started not so much from “bong hits” as it was the idea of Jesus doing them.

  11. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 26, 2007 | Reply

    Constitutional Law professor, Eugene Volokh, at Volokh Conspiracy, a group law blog, has a good take-down of the “Bong Hits” decision here.

  12. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 26, 2007 | Reply

    Constitutional Law professor, Eugene Volokh, of the group law blog, Volokh Conspiracy, has a detailed take-down of the reasoning in the “BONG HiTS” decision here.

  13. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 26, 2007 | Reply

    There’s a good, detailed take down of the BONG HiTS decision at http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2007_06_24-2007_06_30.shtml#1182830987

  14. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 26, 2007 | Reply

    Ron,

    You have something there, although I don’t think you’ve quite hit what IT is. “BONG HiTS 4 JESUS” does not suggest, to me, that Jesus is the one doing taking hits from the bong. Rather, it suggests that taking hits from a bong is, in some unspecified sense “for Jesus”. Now that might suggest that, to paraphrase the old drinking song, “In heaven there is no pot, that’s why we toke it here!” That is, we take hits from the bong for Jesus because Jesus, being in heaven where there is no marijuana, cannot toke up in heaven and so, by us toking up here on earth, Jesus gets a sort of spiritual contact-high from our toking. That is, WE toke for Jesus because he cannot toke for himself and he somehow benefits from our toking. That would seem to be the clearest, most reasonable interpretation of “BONG HiTS 4 JESUS” that I can come up with.

    Your larger point, that it was the connection to Jesus that was the driving motivation for the action is mere speculation but I wouldn’t doubt that it played a role in the Principal’s decision to confiscate the banner and expel the student. However, suppose the banner had simply read, “BONG HiTS” or “BONG HiTS 4 BOB”. I would speculate that the same Principal would have taken the same action for the same reason as he did in the actual case. That is to say, while it may have been an added incentive to act, I don’t think it was the main motivator since I think he’d have acted the same whether Jesus were mentioned in the banner or not.

  15. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 26, 2007 | Reply

    Jersey,

    Were you, like, a cheer-leader in a former life? That’s one kickin’ cheer! 

  16. By Jersey McJones on Jun 26, 2007 | Reply

    Actually Craig, think Broadway (You’re the tops!).  Yeah, on the Jesus element here, the sign, inanity aside, would suggest taking hits from a bong in the name of Jesus.  Like a toast.

    JMJ

  17. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 26, 2007 | Reply

    Ron,

    Although, now that I think about it, that’s not much different that what you said.

  18. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 26, 2007 | Reply

    Jersey,

    I guess I never was much of one for show tunes. :^)

  19. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 26, 2007 | Reply

    Jersey,

    In defense, then, of the majority ruling and contra the Stevens dissent, if the most reasonable interpretation of “BONG HiTS 4 JESUS” is as a sort of toast in memory of Jesus or, more metaphysically, that our toking is for the benefit of Jesus in some way, then the majority is clearly right in that it the message DOES promote illegal drug use. We humans seem to be wired in such a way that no matter how nonsensical a message may be, we TRY to make sense of it. Therefore, any television viewers who might have seen that banner would have tried to figure out what it meant and would most likely have read the message as promoting illegal drug use. To a viewer on tv, although not on school property, commentators might have said something to the effect, “There are the students of XYZ middle school…and look at that sign! What do you suppose that means?” Since we’ve both agreed that the most reasonable interpretation of the message, whether intended or not, promotes illegal drug use, I may have to agree that the Principle was right to confiscate the banner. Yes, it is censorship but the message could have been tied to the particular school as the school’s message if it had been allowed to be displayed in a gathering of an official school outing.

    If read as a non-sense phrase, it seems ham-handed to allow its censoring. Given the likelihood, however, that (a) it could be read as a message being either promoted (or at least permitted) by the school in question and (b) given the school’s official policy against illegal drug use and (c) given the human propensity to finding meaning in even the most meaningless drivel and (d) given that the most reasonable meaning promotes the use of drugs that are, in fact, illegal, I may have to change my mind about whether the banner should have been confiscated. I think, now, that I think it should have been. I think expulsion was heavy-handed and an unnecessarily harsh punishment and I still think that the decision’s rule is way too vague to assure that speech that should be protected is protected.

    So I still don’t like the ruling. It just seems way too likely to restrict speech that I think should be protected.
     

  20. By Ron on Jun 26, 2007 | Reply

    Craig, check my blog for a quote from the principal herself that it most certainly was the “Jesus does bong hits” thing. I cant link it because my blog is unreachable from work.

  21. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 26, 2007 | Reply

    Ron,

    For some reason, I can’t bring up your blog at the moment. I’ll try later. 

  22. By Ron on Jun 26, 2007 | Reply

    Weird. I hate my host.

  23. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 26, 2007 | Reply

    Ron,

    I got to your blog and looked read the article that you linked to. In any case, I continue to surmise that, had the message been “BONG HiTS FOR BOB”, the Principal would have acted the same way. That’s just my opinion however. I have no way to prove or disprove it.

  24. By Ron on Jun 27, 2007 | Reply

    That’s cool, it’s just worth throwing out there to consider.

  25. By Jersey McJones on Jun 27, 2007 | Reply

    Craig, I just don’t see the standing.  The kid’s on the public sidewalk.  The sign is pretty inane.  Even if he was waering a t-shirt that had a pot leaf on it, I just don’t see the standing.  It just seems so obvious to me.  I mean, there’s a huge difference in standing here then say that “under God” case where the father of the child was denied standing because he only had part-time custody!  It just seems like this court is so selective in it’s interpretations that to call them “constructionist” would be like calling the use of a wrecking ball “constructing.”

    JMJ

  26. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 27, 2007 | Reply

    The standing involved arises from the fact that the Principal was sued in lower court for depriving the student of his speech rights. The Principal appealed. He has standing because he, himself, stands to suffer real damages in the suit if he loses his appeal. I’m not familiar enough with the case in which the father with only part time custody was ruled not to have standing to comment on it but generally, standing means that the party before the court has a real stake in the suit, that he or she could suffer real loss and that’s true of the Principal in this case. That’s why she has standing. So far as I can see, there isn’t even a question of standing in this case, and there shouldn’t be.

    As a guess, and as I said, I’m not familiar with the facts in the case so I am relying on memory and largely winging it here, the person with the most standing in the case of “under God” would have been the daughter, if she actually had given a shit which, as I recall, she didn’t. It was the father, an atheist, who felt affronted by the fact that his daughter had to say “under God” in class. But that’s like saying that Rev. Phelps has standing to sue every homosexual in the nation because he feels affronted by the fact that they have anal sex or that he has standing to sue the federal government because they don’t hang gays like they do in Iran. He has no standing because feeling affronted that someone else is doing something is not a real loss. The proper response to Rev. Phelps is, “Get the fuck over it! Next case!” Same in the father’s case. He wasn’t the individual suffering a loss in that case. Hence, he had no standing.

    That’s my analysis, not the court’s. As I said, I have no idea what the court based its non-standing ruling on. That’s just what I would have based MY non-standing ruling on based upon my memory of the facts.

  27. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 27, 2007 | Reply

    Perhaps you mean, what made the Principal think that she had the right (the standing) to demand that the students give her the banner. That’s simple. They were at an official school function at which certain rules of conduct pertained. Students at a school do not have to be on school grounds to be subject to school rules. When I was in school, we used to go to the Museum of Science and Industry or some other museum in Chicago as a field trip. We were subject to the rules of conduct set forth by the school whether we were on school grounds waiting to board the bus, on the bus, or on the public side-walk upon exiting the bus and waiting to enter the museum. By analogy, the Principal had standing to demand that the students take down the banner because it was an official school function during school hours and they were still under the authority of the Principal and the school rules.

  28. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 27, 2007 | Reply

    And I agree that the sign is pretty inane but you and I both find meaning in it, both agree that the meaning that we find in it promotes illegal drug use. In short and in essence, we agree with the Principal’s analysis of the sign. As I said, either by design, by evolution or by socialization, we are wired to find patterns and meanings in the most meaningless, random events or, in this case, inane words and phrases. Regardless of whether the student intended the phrase to promote drug use, if his words are most similar to a toast, in your opinion, well, what is a toast but an invitation to show the bottom of a glass of scotch a good view of the ceiling? That is, it is an open invitation to imbibe. You can, after having analyzed the sign as like a toast, then claim that it wasn’t a promotion of illegal drug use.

  29. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 27, 2007 | Reply

    I would also like to comment on one of the other cases, the one involving Wisconsin Right to Life. You say that 527’s can do whatever they want. This is not the case. The ruling, as I understand it, simply rules that McCain-Feingold is unconstitutional if interpreted to have forbidden WRtL to have free speech rights to air two ads that were forbidden to be aired. This is because neither of the ads, though specific candidates were mentioned in the ads, campaigned either for or against either politician mentioned. Rather, it was ruled to be a true issue ad, calling upon viewers to contact the Senators’ offices and ask them not to filibuster, if I’m not mistaken, a judicial nominee to the courts. Had they, for example, said “Don’t vote for Sen. Feingold because she intends to filibuster a fully qualified nominee to the court”, on the other hand, the ads would not have been true issue ads. Since the ads did not campaign for or against any candidate, the McCain-Feingold monstrosity could not be constitutionally applied to the ads.

    That is to say, 527s CANNOT do whatever they want. That’s simply a mischaracterization of the ruling, IMHO.

  30. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 27, 2007 | Reply

    And what’s with all of the spaces being interjected into words. I may have possibly mistakenly typed a space where I oughtn’t have but I know darn well I didn’t do it in all of the cases above. For some reason, between a comment’s being submitted and that comment’s being displayed, space characters are being placed that are not being typed in.
     

  31. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 27, 2007 | Reply

    In comment # 25, above, I wrote:

    You can, after having analyzed the sign as like a toast, then claim that it wasn’t a promotion of illegal drug use.

    That should, of course, read:

    You can not, after having analyzed the sign as like a toast, then claim that it wasn’t a promotion of illegal drug use.

    Sorry for the confusion. 

  32. By Jersey McJones on Jun 27, 2007 | Reply

    Well, I see your point on standing.  It was the priciple getting sued after all.  On the other hand, as you say, then it should be considered that the principle had no standing in defense.

    However you look at it, the court’s decision was just plain wrong.  On this I think we all (except SteveIL) agree.

    JMJ 

  33. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 27, 2007 | Reply

    I’ve looked into the Newdow v. US (the “under God” case.) The Magistrate Judge and District Court both ruled that “under God” did not violate the establishment clause of the Constitution (I can’t find a links to those decisions). The ninth circuit, predictably, overturned, ruling that the 1954 statute adding the words “under God” to the Pledge did introduce the religious concept of monotheism into the otherwise secular Pledge and that it failed under every test set out by the Supreme Court to test the constitutionality of establishment clause cases (http://news.findlaw.com/cnn/docs/conlaw/newdowus62602opn.pdf). The Supreme Court unanimously (8-0, Scalia recused himself) overturned the 9th Circuit, Justice Stevens writing for the majority held that Mr. Newdow lacked standing (http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=000&invol=02-1624) under California law. The court held as follows:

    Held: Because California law deprives Newdow of the right to sue as next friend, he lacks prudential standing to challenge the school district’s policy in federal court. The standing requirement derives from the constitutional and prudential limits to the powers of an unelected, unrepresentative judiciary. E.g., Allen v. Wright, 468 U. S. 737, 750. The Court’s prudential standing jurisprudence encompasses, inter alia, “the general prohibition on a litigant’s raising another person’s legal rights,” e.g., id., at 751, and the Court generally declines to intervene in domestic relations, a traditional subject of state law, e.g., In re Burrus, 136 U. S. 586, 593-594. The extent of the standing problem raised by the domestic relations issues in this case was not apparent until Banning filed her motion to intervene or dismiss, declaring that the family court order gave her “sole legal custody” and authorized her to “exercise legal control ” over her daughter. Newdow’s argument that he nevertheless retains an unrestricted right to inculcate in his daughter his beliefs fails because his rights cannot be viewed in isolation. This case also concerns Banning’s rights under the custody orders and, most important, their daughter’s interests upon finding herself at the center of a highly public debate. Newdow’s standing derives entirely from his relationship with his daughter, but he lacks the right to litigate as her next friend. Their interests are not parallel and, indeed, are potentially in conflict. Newdow’s parental status is defined by state law, and this Court customarily defers to the state-law interpretations of the regional federal court, see Bishop v. Wood, 426 U. S. 341, 346-347. Here, the Ninth Circuit relied on intermediate state appellate cases recognizing the right of each parent, whether custodial or noncustodial, to impart to the child his or her religious perspective. Nothing that either Banning or the school board has done, however, impairs Newdow’s right to instruct his daughter in his religious views. Instead, he requests the more ambitious relief of forestalling his daughter’s exposure to religious ideas endorsed by her mother, who wields a form of veto power, and to use his parental status to challenge the influences to which his daughter may be exposed in school when he and Banning disagree. The California cases simply do not stand for the proposition that Newdow has a right to reach outside the private parent-child sphere to dictate to others what they may and may not say to his child respecting religion. A next friend surely could exercise such a right, but the family court’s order has deprived Newdow of that status. Pp. 7-14.

    Now I should say that I personally do not favor the inclusion of “under God” in the Pledge. I agree with Mr. Newdow and the 9th Circuit that the 1954 statute introducing those words into the Pledge is unconstitutional. As to the standing question, it seems to me that the parent with custody is solely responsible for deciding how her daughter should be raised regarding her religious upbringing. Mr. Newdow can object to the decisions of Mrs. Newdow, but he cannot stand in the way of those decisions.

    Look at it this way. Suppose the question were this: Ms Banning, the mother, being (for the sake of hypothetical argument) Jewish, wishes to raise her daughter in the Jewish religion. Mr. Newdow, being an atheist, wishes his daughter to be raised without religious education. Mrs. Newdow has, under California law and court order, “ ’sole legal custody as to the rights and responsibilities to make decisions relating to the health, education and welfare of’ ” her daughter. Could Mr. Newdow prevent Ms. Banning from sending her daughter to classes at Ms. Banning’s synagogue? No. Therefore he lacks standing to prevent her from sending her daughter to a public school where the Pledge, including the words “under God” are included.

    Although I think that, constitutionally, the 1954 addition of “under God” hasn’t got a leg to stand on, it seems clear to me that Ms. Banning and not Mr. Newdow has standing to represent her daughter’s interests. Had she raised the question, I think it clear that the Supreme Court would have had to grant her standing and the Court SHOULD have then found the 1954 federal statute, the California state statute and the school district’s implementation of that statute unconstitutional.

  34. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 27, 2007 | Reply

    Perhaps it is a good thing that the Supreme Court, in Newdow, refused to decide the constitutionality of the “under God” inclusive Pledge since it seems likely that a majority would have held that it was constitutional. After all, in a Court less conservative than today’s court, with a swingy O’Connor often siding with the liberals in certain issues, it seems odd that not one Justice dissented with the holding of the court, although there were plenty of dissents from the reasoning of the majority. Had the court granted standing to Newdow, it is quite likely that the constitutional question would be now resolved in favor of the Pledge.

  35. By Jersey McJones on Jun 27, 2007 | Reply

    That’s true.  It would take one hell of a swing to the left to change that outcome though.

    JMJ

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