Coppola v. Lawson

After the student newspaper at Ocean County Community College released several award-winning investigative pieces criticizing its school president and policies, reporters and editors felt the school was intimidating them to make them stop. Their complaints were that the administrators were removing their adviser from her position unfairly, intimidating them by visiting their office during production, creating a Student Media Advisory Board, canceling workshops the paper used to recruit new members and forcing the paper to move to PC computers on the school’s network from Macintosh on an independent network.

The United States District Court for the District of New Jersey agreed that the adviser was fired in retaliation for the critical coverage of the school. The court said it feared getting rid of the adviser would cause a chilling effect, where students would became scared to exercise their legal rights. The court denied the other four claims, stating they were speculative or didn’t present direct threats to the students’ First Amendment rights.