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Down to the Wire in ‘Hosty v. Carter’

The Supreme Court is set to decide, in conference on February 17, whether it will take up the case of Hosty v. Carter, the infamous case that extends Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier to colleges and universities and could allow administrators to censor student newspapers. The Court has already shown interest in the case by asking the Illinois attorney general to file a brief in response to the petition for writ of certiorari. The Illinois attorney general did so on December 28 and Hosty’s attorneys filed an excellent response to that brief on January 18. FIRE has already joined the fight by submitting its own amicus brief supporting review of the case.

Greg Lukianoff, FIRE’s interim president and coauthor of the FIRE amicus brief, sums up the case best:

Far, far smaller loopholes with regard to the First Amendment rights of students have been exploited to censor what used to be considered clearly protected speech. In light of the many ways—including accusations of harassment and intimidation—that administrations have already used to suppress speech, an actual opinion likening collegiate free speech rights to high school free speech rights could be disastrous for free speech on campus.

The Supreme Court will publicly announce its decision on hearing the case on February 21. Hopefully, the Court will take the case—and then finally set the record straight by ruling that Hazelwood is not applicable at the college and university level.

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