June 27, 2007

Bong hits for the Savior and more

Mike Matthews got a great discussion rolling regarding the now-famous "Bong Hits for Jesus" free speech case. (.PDF file.) Yours truly has numerous comments there, so if you're interested in this case and want to see a great discussion (really!), check it out.

Greg at Rhymes With Right has a terrific post about the case in which he joins the four dissenting justices. He writes:

As a result, this case leaves me very worried. Tinker held that students do not surrender their civil liberties at the schoolhouse gate. Could it be that we are reaching the point that students do, in fact, require that students surrender those liberties? Rather than recognizing (as in West Virginia v. Barnette in 1943) that no public official, high or petty, shall define what the orthodox and acceptable opinions shall be held and expressed, we are going to permit school boards and their employees to determine what speech on matters of public importance shall be considered acceptable?

It's a compelling argument, to be sure. However, as I argue over at Matthews' place, I differ with fellow teacher Greg in that if students are allowed to say and/or wear virtually anything they wish in the guise of "free expression," you're opening the doors to organizational chaos. Instead of teaching, I'll be quelling fights (or potential fights) due to that "I HATE BLACKS" t-shirt that kid has on and the subsequent anger that many African-American students now feel (rightly!) as a result. The SCOTUS has ruled since Tinker that school officials can limit certain student speech if it disrupts (or could disrupt) the educational mission of the school.

I am curious as to whether state law could be used to enhance student speech freedoms much like in this case. It seems to me that this could indeed be the case if Alaska (where the "Bong Hits" banner was unfurled) so desired. I was ... "schooled" in how this is a legitimate method to "rein in" such a SCOTUS decision not only by Greg, but by lawyer-blogger Sailorman and the ever-omniscient Xrlq.

Speaking of the latter, I e-mailed him a question regarding "anchor babies" -- babies that are born in the US whose parents are illegal aliens. This was discussed on one of the talking head shows recently (O'Reilly, I believe) and it was asked if a constitutional amendment would be necessary to change the provision that anyone born in the US is automatically a US citizen. One of the guests emphatically said "yes." But, as Xrlq has educated me on minute details regarding the relevant 14th Amendment in the past, I wanted his take on all this. He says:

I think it would take an amendment. Some argue that illegal aliens and their children are not "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States, and therefore outside the ambit of the citizenship clause, but it strikes me as a stretch. The Enforcement Clause wouldn't change that result, as a statute contravening the basic rule of the Fourteenth Amendment can scarcely be construed as appropriate legislation to enforce it.

What are the chances such an amendment would pass? Very small, in my opinion. Congress is already clueless about public sentiment regarding illegal immigration, and although the public may desire such an amendment, I could hardly see two-thirds of both houses of Congress passing such. Interestingly, Britain and France used to have provisions whereby anyone born in those countries was automatically a citizen. But they have since changed those laws.

Posted by Hube at June 27, 2007 09:49 AM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

I'm not sure I agree on whether the amendment would pass. Congress may be clueless but the states themselves would be deciding the vote. Imagine if the immigration issue were decided by referendum.

Posted by: Duffy at June 27, 2007 01:20 PM

That's a good point, Duff. I had forgotten that 2/3 of the state legislatures could propose an amendment before it being sent to the ratification process.

Posted by: Hube at June 27, 2007 01:31 PM

I don't think that's ever happened. Historically, the best shot of a constitutional amendment has always been the path through Congress. It's far easier to get two houses of Congress to pass something than to get 50 states to get their collective acts together. Going throgh Congress focuses attention in a ways a concerted effort to pass an amendment through the states never could.

Posted by: Paul Smith at June 27, 2007 03:39 PM

My immediate reaction to such an amendment is extremely negative (actually, I'm pretty negative about all amendments), but I'm curious to hear what the proposal is.

Would it cover only the children of illegal immigrants, or would the children of non-citizens be included? Would the children receive automatic citizenship at age 18, or would there be third-generation illegal residents living under threat of deportation?

Posted by: Nels Nelson at June 27, 2007 03:59 PM

Nels: I didn't really catch (if there was a mention) just who proposed any such amendment.

Personally, I suppose it could be workable in that only those here illegally would be affected by such an amendment. Those here legally -- non-citizens included -- could be exempt ... merely for following the law to come to the US.

Posted by: Hube at June 27, 2007 08:47 PM

Mdr j'aime ta blague ^^ (je suis très bon publique j'avoue j'avoue)

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