Supreme Court Won’t Review College Newspaper Censorship Case

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Feb. 21 declined to hear an appeal by student journalists involving campus administrators who required approval of their school newspaper prior to publication.

Three students from Governors State University in University Park, Ill., appealed a lower-court ruling that dismissed their case, which involved First Amendment free speech protection for university newspapers.

The lawsuit originated in 2000 when the newspaper published several articles that were critical of the administration. This prompted the school’s dean, Patricia Carter, to instruct the newspaper’s printer to stop printing the publication until the articles could be approved. But two editors and a reporter from the newspaper refused to submit their articles to the campus administration for review.

The three student journalists then sued Carter, as well as other school officials, claiming their First Amendment rights had been violated when the school required prior approval of their articles.

A federal judge dismissed the charges against the other school administrators, and an appeals court ruled in favor of Carter, citing a 1988 case involving a high school newspaper. In the 1988 case, the court ruled that school officials could require prior approval of articles without violating the student’s constitutional rights. In the Governors State University case, the court determined that the 1988 ruling also applied to newspapers funded by public colleges and universities.

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