Pages Navigation Menu

Ten First Amendment Court Cases

Posted by on Aug 30, 2022 in Blog | Comments Off on Ten First Amendment Court Cases



3. Reaffirmed that public universities cannot punish students for indecent or offensive speech that does not disrupt campus order or interfere with the rights of others.

  1. Justice Abe Fortas stated that it “can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”
  2. School officials in Kansas did not violate the First Amendment rights of a middle school student when they suspended him for drawing a picture of the Confederate flag in math class… the drawing violated the school’s racial harassment and intimidation policy
  3. This case affirmed public college students’ First Amendment rights of free speech and association
  4. Schools may restrict what is published in student newspapers if the papers have not been established as public forums


  1. A public university that funds student-run publications cannot engage in viewpoint discrimination by denying funding to select publications based on the particular views expressed in those publications.
  2. Pennsylvania high school officials lacked the authority to discipline a student for an off-campus, vulgar Snapchat post that she made in frustration after not making the varsity cheerleading squad.
  1. Public school officials can prohibit student speech that is vulgar, lewd, or plainly offensive.
  2. Often referred to as the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case, the Supreme Court ruled that it is not a denial of the First Amendment right to free speech for public school officials to censor student speech that they reasonably believe encourages illegal drug use.

8. Extended Hazelwood’s framework “to subsidized student newspapers at colleges as well as elementary and secondary schools.”

Read More

Constitution Day 2022

Posted by on Aug 30, 2022 in Blog | Comments Off on Constitution Day 2022


JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee hopes to help you and your students celebrate their free speech rights this year. Constitution Day, observed Sept. 17 each year in commemoration of the signing of the United States Constitution, is an excellent time to do it. 

• We have a quick court cases-review crossword to help you and your students audit if your coverage was as comprehensive as you’d like.

Check out the links, below, for more information on each activity. Feel free to make use of the materials anytime during the weeks before or after Constitution Day. They could be launching points for your own ideas to focus on student speech rights.

Gauging Community Attitudes Towards First Amendment Rights (by Mark Dzula): The Knight Foundation surveys teens and teachers’ attitudes towards freedom of speech. Gauge your community’s attitudes towards first amendment rights as you prepare to advocate for the First Amendment.

Ten First Amendment Court Cases (by Mark Dzula): From the classic, key decisions to ne newer and still coming into importance, this quiz will give you a base of information–and a challenge. (And there is a key)

In search of a free and fair press (by Candace Bowen, MJE): Democracy is based on an informed electorate going to the polls to choose its leaders. Only a free and fair press can make that possible. If news media include slanted views and bias, readers can be unknowingly swayed to believe something that may not be true. That hurts democracy. To help students read more critically, compare two news articles about the same event and start developing the skills to spot ways some media may be giving readers a slanted view.

Media, Free Speech, & The Paradox of Democracy (by Mark Dzula): It’s better to think of democracy less as a government type and more as an open communicative culture.” Media and free speech can both nurture and hinder democratic practice, according to The Paradox of Democracy. Find out how.

• In addition to this new material, check out our numerous lessons and activities from previous years: 2021, 20202019201820172016201520142013.

This is also a great time to review student press rights particular to your community. How aware are your students of their own editorial policy? School board policy? Guidelines for ethical performance and meaningful, all-encompassing staff manual? How about the existence (or lack thereof) of a New Voices law? Are there ways your students could strengthen or improve their specific protections? You can always check out additional resources on this website or the Student Press Law Center.

Constitution Day Contributors

CD Day 2022

Mark Dzula, the Webb Schools (CA)

Kristin Taylor, CJE, The Archer School for Girls (CA)

Candace Bowen, MJE, Kent State University (OH)

John Bowen, MJE, Kent State University (OH)

Read More

Rethinking journalism as it enters a period of transition, including accuracy and truth

Posted by on Aug 14, 2022 in Blog | 0 comments


Given the extraordinary events of the past three years, and ones now historically burnt into community memory, student journalists’ assignment sheets must now develop new concepts of story value and focus … from context to what local means in coverage

by John Bowen, MJE

With a new school year come new friends, opportunities and responsibilities. Some are memorable, at least for a while, because they stand out.

An example is Sept. 11, 2001, both for national events and for local ones that followed. Students then faced difficult content decisions. In some cases, these were obligations to localize national events but also to focus on their local issues and implications. 

Typically, school story choices can be difficult because not all student media have a history of such reporting. After all, students are drilled with the concept these are “the best years of our lives,” and not to events that call for depth and issue reporting.

Given the extraordinary events of the past three years, and ones now historically burned into community memory, student journalists’ assignment sheets must develop new concepts of story value and focus.

Read More

What’s old is still new

Posted by on May 26, 2022 in Blog | Comments Off on What’s old is still new


by Stan Zoller, MJE

man love people woman

Another step in removing the shackles

Hawaii is the sixteenth state to pass New Voices protection recently. The task to protect all student news media is not new and is unfinished. The signing in Hawaii is a huge success, but there is still a long way to go. Today’s students represent a new generation, but their voices aren’t new – they’re continuing – as is the struggle for press freedom. Photo by Kindel Media on

Amidst the recent onslaught of disturbing news stories – whether it’s the carnage in Ukraine, the killing of 10 shoppers in grocery story or the gut-wrenching and senseless murders of 19 fourth-grade students and two teachers in a Texas elementary school – we try to look for a ray, if possible, of good news.

It’s not easy. 

Read More

‘Passion project’ brings forum policy, student decision making through process, trust

Posted by on May 16, 2022 in Blog | Comments Off on ‘Passion project’ brings forum policy, student decision making through process, trust


by John Bowen, MJE

What a private school adviser called a “passion project” for journalism students and herself during the pandemic became a model for other schools, public and private, to work to limit the damage censorship brings to education.

What they successfully developed is an example of a process designed so a school has a method to avoid conflict over student media content and viewpoint leadership by building a process through discussion and trust.

Read More

Administrators suggest advisers pull edit as disruptive, negative and not what school wants

Posted by on May 5, 2022 in Blog | Comments Off on Administrators suggest advisers pull edit as disruptive, negative and not what school wants


• Author says censored editorial presents a factual, legal case against policy changes
• Administrators say the editorial is disruptive, negative toward school administrators and not conducive to the school’s view of what a student-led newspaper should accomplish
• Press lawyer says editorial is not disruptive to school environment

by John Bowen, MJE
Administrators at Texas High School in Texarkana, Texas, this week advised Tiger Times advisers to remove the editorial “Students, not suspects” claiming the piece was disruptive.

Tiger Times editor-in-chief Doug Kyles said in a press release May 3 the principal claimed the article was negative towards the school’s administration and not conducive to the school’s view of what the student-led newspaper should accomplish.

Read More