Bong Hits 4 Jesus Exhibit

From the Morse v. Frederick case

Bong Hits 4 Jesus

The First Amendment Museum recently acquired on long-term loan the original “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” banner related to the historic Supreme Court case Morse v. Frederick, which helped define the limits of high school students’ free speech.

Joseph Frederick
Joseph Frederick

The “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” banner was made in 2002 by Alaskan high school student Joseph Frederick to test the limits of free speech. After unfurling it at a school-sponsored event, he was suspended by his principal, Deborah Morse. Frederick then filed a civil rights lawsuit, claiming his free speech rights had been violated. The case, Morse v. Frederick, made it to the US Supreme Court in 2006.

Deborah Morse
Deborah Morse

While Frederick’s lawyer argued that that banner was about free speech and not drugs, the US Supreme Court sided with the school, stating that schools can prohibit speech that can be regarded as encouraging drug use. To this day, Morse v. Frederick is one of only a handful of cases that have defined the limits of students’ free speech. 

When you visit the First Amendment Museum you will learn more about the case and see the actual banner, an excellent representation of the limits of free speech in schools, and which also represents the inspiration, enthusiasm, and courage of our youth – who so frequently in our history are the instigators of important social change.

“Freedom to speak … can be maintained only by promoting debate.”

Walter Lippmanm

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