The State Response to Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier
Tyler J. Buller
Iowa Department of Justice
August 15, 2012
Maine Law Review (Forthcoming Dec. 2013)
Student journalism was dealt a significant blow in 1988, when Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier gave school officials license to censor any student speech inconsistent with a school’s “pedagogical concerns.” Scholars and advocates have long argued that Hazelwood has allowed widespread censorship of stories criticizing school officials and articles concerning controversial topics like sex, drinking, and drug-use. In the aftermath of Hazelwood, nine states have adopted so-called “anti-Hazelwood” statutes and regulations that place additional protections between student journalists and school officials. These anti-Hazelwood measures have a mixed track record and are rarely litigated. Until now, there has been virtually no data exploring whether these measures affect student-newspaper content and in fact work to secure a vibrant and free student press. This Article presents an original study that quantifies the effectiveness of anti-Hazelwood measures by comparing the content of student-newspaper editorials in states with anti-Hazelwood protections to those without. The resulting data show that anti-Hazelwood statutes have an effect on student journalism: they result in students publishing more editorial content and a greater proportion of editorial content that criticizes school officials or tackles controversial subjects.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 83
Keywords: high school journalism, scholastic journalism, student journalism, student newspaper, Tinker, Hazelwood, Morse v. Frederick, Bethel v. Fraser, student speech, anti-Hazelwood, student press
JEL Classification: K00, K10Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: May 22, 2012 ; Last revised: March 26, 2013
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