Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Strange bedfellows

The NYT’s Linda Greenhouse notices the strange bedfellows in Morse v. Frederick, a high school free speech case heard by the Supreme Court today.

Here, if you have lots of time, are all the briefs in the case. Of especial interest are those strange bedfellows--briefs from the Alliance Defense Fund, the Christian Legal Society, the American Center for Law and Justice, and the ACLU, to choose just a few.

If I had to bet, the Court will find some sort of narrow way of deciding this case, either following Ken Starr’s argument that student speech about drug abuse can be controlled (but limiting it to this particular issue) or finding against the principal because she tried to exercise authority off school grounds when the student was, in effect, on his own time. I can’t imagine a sweeping vindication of the school’s authority here. If the Court did so, the concerns expressed by the conservative religious amici would have been vindicated, and the ability of school authorities to suppress student religious exercise would be next to impossible to resist.

Update: Professor Friedman has more here and here.

Update #2: Christianity Today has more, with oodles of links. A thought occurred to me about how this rather odd-seeming alliance, which (as one of the participants noted) is difficult to explain in a press release, indicates something of the political and legal maturation of Christian conservatives. They’re willing, after all, to support an "unpopular" cause that likely has more friends on the libertarian left. Yes, there’s a long-term interest they’re trying to protect, but they can see past the immediate fog to protect it. And they may have to explain it to some supporters, but I regard that as a good thing, for it will teach those supporters something about the complexities of life in a pluralistic society.

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