Justice Now

J U S T I C E   N O W:
You Be the Judge
Case 2: Freedom of the School Press?

At a Missouri high school, the student editors of a school newspaper sued the school district when the principal cut out two of their newspaper articles without their knowledge. The editors claimed this was censorship and a violation of their First Amendment right to free speech. The articles the principal removed were personal stories written by students at the school. One was about divorce in which the student strongly criticized her father. The other article was about a teen pregnancy and described experiences with sex and birth control. The principal said he removed the article about divorce because the girl's father did not have a fair chance to respond. He removed the second article because he said he was worried that references to sexual activity were inappropriate for younger students and that the privacy rights of the students described in the article might be violated.

In Court...Lawyers for the students argued that the newspaper was a "public forum." Both students and community members could purchase it. They said the principal should only be able to cut out articles that would disrupt the school and neither of these two would have done so. Lawyers for the school district said that the sale of the newspaper only paid for a small part of the publishing costs, and that the school district paid for the rest ... as well as other costs involved in teaching the journalism class. Therefore, they argued that the district is the "publisher" and has the final say on the content of the paper, just like adult newspapers which are controlled by their publishers.

Who was right?
In whose favor do you think the court decided -
The student editors or the school district?
What do
you think?

A

The school district pays the bills, so they are the publisher. They can take anything they want out of the school newspaper.

B

The students should be willing to take out any potentially "offensive" articles.

C

Under certain circumstances, it's okay for the principal to remove articles from the newspaper.

D

The students are protected by the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. When the principal took out those articles, he violated their freedom of speech rights.

E

This is censorship! Plain and simple. The students should test their 1st Amendment rights by printing some articles that will really "worry" the principal!

Or click here to see the results so far.

 

Check out other "You be the Judge" Cases:

 


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