As we reported last week, FIRE is disappointed that the Supreme Court has decided not to hear Hosty v. Carter, thereby upholding the Seventh Circuit’s 2005 decision to allow public university administrators to censor student newspapers. The Student Press Law Center (SPLC) issued a press release this week airing student editors’ reactions.
This decision has gained new importance in light of the recent debate surrounding the publishing of the Danish Mohammed cartoons. The Seventh Circuit encompasses Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois, and in Illinois alone, two controversies have arisen regarding the public display of the cartoons. At the University of Chicago, a student was reportedly forced to remove a homemade sketch of Mohammed from his dorm door, and at the University of Illinois, two student editors who ran the cartoons were suspended from the Daily Illini by a board composed of students and faculty.
These incidents mark a trend in the Seventh Circuit that places students’ free expression in serious jeopardy. If administrators have final say over what gets published, then student newspapers will be cease to be voices independent of universities. Greg Lukianoff effectively summarized FIRE’s concern when he told the SPLC, “This decision has badly muddled the legal landscape when it comes to freedom of speech. I’ve previously called this decision a disaster, and I stand by that.”