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U.S. Supreme Court

Justice Compares Bong Hits, Banned Sips

Posted Jun 27, 2007 10:06 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Memories of Prohibition helped shape Justice John Paul Stevens’ dissenting views in the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case.

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that a school could punish a student for advocating illegal drug use by unfurling the “Bong Hits” banner at a school-sanctioned parade. Stevens’ compared the ban on marijuana to the one-time ban on alcohol, the Washington Post notes.

"Just as Prohibition in the 1920s and early 1930s was secretly questioned by thousands of otherwise law-abiding patrons of bootleggers and speakeasies," Stevens wrote, "today the actions of literally millions of otherwise law-abiding users of marijuana, and of the majority of voters in each of the several states that tolerate medicinal uses of the product, lead me to wonder whether the fear of disapproval by those in the majority is silencing opponents of the war on drugs."

Stevens, who is 87, knows something about Prohibition, the Post reports. Alcohol was banned during the first 13 years of his life, and his mother was an ardent liquor opponent. "Lips that taste wine will never touch mine," she used to say.

Stevens’ father, a hotelier, correctly predicted he would benefit from Prohibition’s repeal, since diners would be more likely to frequent hotel restaurants where they could order an alcoholic beverage.

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