Landmark Student-Press Ruling Resonates Decades Later
In late 1987, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White circulated a draft opinion to his colleagues in a case about whether high school journalists had the right to be free of interference from school administrators.
His opinion in the case, Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier , sided with Missouri administrators who some four years earlier had removed articles about teenage pregnancy, divorce, and other sensitive topics from the Hazelwood East High School student newspaper before publication.
And that is how the case turned out. In a landmark decision 25 years ago next week, the justices ruled 5-3 that educators usually do not violate the First Amendment when they exercise control over student speech in school-sponsored expressive activities. The decision had immense significance for student publications and for student speech more generally. The 25th anniversary of the Jan. 13, 1988, decision has been marked in recent months by scholarly conferences and assessments...
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