Mark W. Cordes

Document Type



The Supreme Court’s most recent high school speech case, Morse v. Fredericks, 127 S.Ct. 2618 (2007), generated much attention, perhaps more than the specific issue before the Court was worth. Much of that attention, of course, was attributable to the informal name for the case - “Bong Hits 4 Jesus.” By itself that was enough to create a groundswell of curiosity and allowed the media to make the normally dry and stuffy workings of the Supreme Court sound downright fun. Beyond that, however, the case involved the intersection of a highly valued liberty, free speech, with the tumultuous setting of American high school life. Both free speech and high schools have a special place in the American psyche, and when the two collide we take special attention. Not surprisingly, the Court has often struggled with how to handle such situations, acknowledging that as emerging adults high school students have speech rights, and yet seeing schools as special environments whose primary purpose is education and not speech. For that reason the Court has struck a balance between these competing concerns, but one which typically favors the need to preserve order in schools over the speech rights of students.

Publication Date



College of Law



Suggested Citation

Mark W. Cordes, Bong Hits 4 Jesus: Making Sense of Free Speech in High Schools, The Professor's Column, N. Ill. U. C. L. (Nov. 2008).

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