Federal appeals court dismisses high school free speech case Jaime Jansen at 8:40 AM ET
[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 Morrison sued [ACLU press release] the school district over a now-repealed policy that required students to undergo anti-harassment training.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.
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