First Amendment Center and Associated Press Report on Dismissed Kansas State Lawsuit

By on August 8, 2007

Our friends at the First Amendment Center have posted an article based on reports from the Associated Press and their own staff about the disappointing decision from the Tenth Circuit that Will reported on in his post last week.


The federal appeals court dismissed a lawsuit brought by two former Kansas State University journalism students, declaring their suit moot since they graduated while their case was under review.


The basis of the students’ claim was that KSU tried to censor their student newspaper by dismissing their adviser in response to criticism of the paper’s coverage. FIRE joined an amicus brief in support of the students’ case. We are particularly disappointed that the court failed to even consider the merits of the students’ First Amendment claims, as Will pointed out previously. Dismissal of a media adviser is an underhanded tactic university administrations often use to censor a student paper, presumably hoping to replace an independently thinking adviser with one more in tune with the administration.


The article relied on Will’s Torch post in saying:
The 10th Circuit’s ruling “has provided would-be administrative censors with a pernicious incentive for delaying punishment based on speech until just before the student speakers graduate—or even just expelling the students outright […] By allowing schools to evade judicial review of their punitive responses to speech simply by timing the application of their punishments until a student’s graduation is imminent, it seems the [10th] Circuit has pointed administrators towards an inviting loophole to the First Amendment that we fear they will be all too eager to exploit.

Schools: Kansas State University