Things may be looking up for university students in Illinois.
Even though the 2005 Hosty v. Carter decision eroded freedom of the press for students in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin—those states making up the Seventh Circuit—the Prairie State may be redeeming itself in the eyes of student press supporters with a new piece of legislation that would negate the much-debated Hosty holding.
The state legislature is scheduled to consider the College Campus Press Act, which provides in part that:
Campus media, whether campus-sponsored or noncampus-sponsored, is not subject to prior review by public officials of State-sponsored institutions of higher learning.
The act, sponsored by Senator Susan Garrett, comes on the heels of California’s so-called “anti-Hosty” law that took effect on January 1st of this year. The Student Press Law Center also reports that Oregon and Washington have introduced similar bills intended to provide safeguards to the college student media.
Such measures are encouraging, to say the least. When—much to our dismay—the Supreme Court refused to hear the Hosty appeal last year, the outlook for student journalists in the Seventh Circuit looked bleak. But now I am both excited and optimistic about the steps Illinois is taking in response to what has been widely criticized as a poor judicial decision. The fact that other states are making proactive attempts to bolster their commitment to student press freedoms is the icing on the cake. I hope these legislators—especially in Illinois—seriously consider the consequences of their actions while discussing and voting on these bills. As always, FIRE will be watching and will keep you posted as we learn more.