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Landmark Cases of the U.S. Supreme Court

Street Law / Landmark Cases / Cases / Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier

Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1988)

Censorship, Student Press Rights

" . . . educators do not offend the First Amendment by exercising editorial control over the style and content of student speech in school-sponsored expressive activities so long as their actions are reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns." —Justice White, speaking for the majority

Hazelwood East High School Principal Robert Reynolds procedurally reviewed the Spectrum, the school’s student-written newspaper, before publication. In May 1983, he decided to have certain pages pulled because of the sensitive content in two of the articles, and acted quickly to remove them in order to meet the paper’s publication deadline. The journalism students felt that this censorship was a direct violation of their First Amendment rights. The Supreme Court decided that Principal Reynolds had the right to such editorial decisions, as he had “legitimate pedagogical concerns.”

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* Answers to the background questions, vocabulary, and activities can be found in the FOR TEACHERS ONLY tab under each case.

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