SUB: State News Roundup
A New Jersey superior-court judge has ruled that local school officials violated a junior-high-school student's right to free speech under the state constitution when they refused to publish his reviews of R-rated movies in a school-sponsored newspaper.
In a 2-hour oral opinion given May 7, the judge said that school officials practiced "unduly oppressive" censorship by pulling the reviews before publication, said William H. Buckman, the lawyer who represented the student on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union.
The judge ruled that the New Jersey Con6stitution--not the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court--guaranteed the student's right to free speech.
In 1989, officials at Clearview Regional Junior High School in Mullica Hill pulled Brien Desilets' reviews of the movies "Mississippi Burning" and "Rain Man." School officials considered R-rated films inappropriate for junior-high students, Mr. Buckman said.
"I think [the ruling] is important nationally," Mr. Buckman said, ''because it tells other students and student advocates that the cramped vision of the federal Constitution presently subscribed to by the U.S. Supreme Court is not necessarily the end of the game."
The Clearview Regional School District board is slated to meet this week to decide whether to appeal the decision, said its superintendent, Michael Toscano.