April 2012 Vol. 110 No. 6 THE REVIEW

Context and Trivia

Samuel Brenner

"My academic mantra," writes Professor James C. Foster in the Introduction to BONG HiTS 4 JESUS: A Perfect Constitutional Storm in Alaska's Capital, which examines the history and development of the Supreme Court's decision in Morse v. Frederick, "[is] context, context, context" (p. 2). Foster, a political scientist at Oregon State University, argues that it is necessary to approach constitutional law "by situating the U.S. Supreme Court's . . . doctrinal work within surrounding historical context, shorn of which doctrine is reduced to arid legal rules lacking meaning and significance" (p. 1). He seeks to do so in BONG HiTS 4 JESUS by incorporating interviews with and discussion about the parties, some bystanders, and various judges and lawyers who worked on the case throughout its multiyear history. His goal, he explains, is "to make sense of the origins and consequences of the perfect constitutional storm that engulfed Joseph Frederick, Deborah Morse, and the other ‘natives' whose stories shape this book" (p. 3).

In exploring the context, both doctrinal and sociological or anthropological, in which the Morse litigation was decided, Foster has written a book that is often fascinating, entertaining, erudite, and useful, and that touches on important and continuing questions of law, freedom of speech, student rights, and state power.

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