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Supreme Court limits student free speech

The U.S. Supreme Court limited student free speech Wednesday when it ruled against a student who opened a banner that read "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" at a 2002 school event in Juneau, Alaska.

Joseph Frederick said he opened the banner as a prank to get himself on television while his school was watching the Winter Olympic torch relay pass by.

Frederick was suspended for 10 days after the incident because school officials said the banner promoted illegal drug use.

With a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that schools have the right to limit free speech when it is viewed as promoting illegal drug use.

The ruling, which was the first case in 20 years dealing with student free speech, was backed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Center for Law and Justice as well as many conservative groups who fear the ruling would allow schools to limit students' rights to express religious views, especially those on abortion and homosexuality.

Covered by the British Broadcasting Corporation, Reuters and the Star Tribune, coverage of the ruling was very complete in the media.

One of the more interesting points was the difference in coverage between the local paper and the two larger news services. The local paper focused more on the student as a person, giving background information about his life since the event as well as plenty of direct quotes from him.

The two national news services focused more on the ruling and the message from the Supreme Court.

Between the two larger news services, Reuters seemed to be the most objective as it included quotations from both liberal and conservative justices.