The story concerns a high school student in Juneau, Alaska, whose suspension turned into a battle over free speech that was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. The student, Joseph Frederick, his father, Frank, and Doug Mertz, the local attorney who took his case, all made life rights deals for the film. Frederick already had a contentious relationship with the school principal when he got suspended for 10 days for displaying a "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" message on a 14-foot sign outside the school. The principal felt the banner promoted drug use. The case made national headlines, and Frederick became a poster boy for the First Amendment, but in a split decision, the Supreme Court upheld the principal's right to suspend the student.