Legal Principle at Issue
Whether a high school principal’s removal of two articles from the student newspaper about pregnancy and divorce violated the First Amendment rights of the student editors. To what extent, consistent with the First Amendment, may educators exercise editorial control over school-sponsored speech?
The Supreme Court, overruling the Eighth Circuit, ruled that the removal did not violate the First Amendment.
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Three former editors of the Spectrum, a student newspaper run as part of a journalism class and funded by the Board of Educators, sued after the principal removed two articles from the May 1983 issue that described student experiences with pregnancy and divorce. The principal believed that the students interviewed and parents discussed in the articles could be identified and found the discussions of birth control and sexual activity inappropriate for younger students.
Importance of Case
The Supreme Court delineated lesser protection for school-sponsored speech (speech promoted and partially controlled by an educational program) and affirmed that a public forum must be created intentionally in a public high school setting.