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Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier

(01/13/88 12:00am)

No. 86-836 SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES 484 U.S. 260 Argued October 13, 1987 Decided January 13, 1988SyllabusRespondents, former high school students who were staff members of the school's newspaper, filed suit in Federal District Court against petitioners, the school district and school officials, alleging that respondents' First Amendment rights were violated by the deletion from a certain issue of the paper of two pages that included an article describing school students' experiences with pregnancy and another article discussing the impact of divorce on students at the school. The newspaper was written and edited by a journalism class, as part of the school's curriculum. Pursuant to the school's practice, the teacher in charge of the paper submitted page proofs to the school's principal, who objected to the pregnancy story because the pregnant students, although not named, might be identified from the text, and because he believed that the article's references to sexual activity and birth control were inappropriate for some of the younger students. The principal objected to the divorce article because the page proofs he was furnished identified by name (deleted by the teacher from the final version) a student who complained of her father's conduct, and the principal believed that the student's parents should have been given an opportunity to respond to the remarks or to consent to their publication. Believing that there was no time to make necessary changes in the articles if the paper was to be issued before the end of the school year, the principal directed that the pages on which they appeared be withheld from publication even though other, unobjectionable articles were included on such pages. The District Court held that no First Amendment violation had occurred. The Court of Appeals reversed. Held: Respondents' First Amendment rights were not violated. Pp. 266-276. (a) First Amendment rights of students in the public schools are not automatically coextensive with the rights of adults in other settings, and must be applied in light of the special characteristics of the school environment. A school need not tolerate student speech that is inconsistent with its basic educational mission, even though the government could not censor similar speech outside the school. Pp. 266-267. (b) The school newspaper here cannot be characterized as a forum for public expression. School facilities may be deemed to be public forums [261] only if school authorities have by policy or by practice opened the facilities for indiscriminate use by the general public, or by some segment of the public, such as student organizations. If the facilities have instead been reserved for other intended purposes, communicative or otherwise, then no public forum has been created, and school officials may impose reasonable restrictions on the speech of students, teachers, and other members of the school community. The school officials in this case did not deviate from their policy that the newspaper's production was to be part of the educational curriculum and a regular classroom activity under the journalism teacher's control as to almost every aspect of publication. The officials did not evince any intent to open the paper's pages to indiscriminate use by its student reporters and editors, or by the student body generally. Accordingly, school officials were entitled to regulate the paper's contents in any reasonable manner. Pp. 267-270. (c) The standard for determining when a school may punish student expression that happens to occur on school premises is not the standard for determining when a school may refuse to lend its name and resources to the dissemination of student expression. Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School Dist., 393 U.S. 503, distinguished. 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. Pp. 270-273. (d) The school principal acted reasonably in this case in requiring the deletion of the pregnancy article, the divorce article, and the other articles that were to appear on the same pages of the newspaper. Pp. 274-276.795 F. 2d 1368, reversed. WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C. J., and STEVENS, O'CONNOR, and SCALIA, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which MARSHALL and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined, post, p. 277. [262] JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court. This case concerns the extent to which educators may exercise editorial control over the contents of a high school newspaper produced as part of the school's journalism curriculum. IPetitioners are the Hazelwood School District in St. Louis County, Missouri; various school officials; Robert Eugene Reynolds, the principal of Hazelwood East High School; and Howard Emerson, a teacher in the school district. Respondents are three former Hazelwood East students who were staff members of Spectrum, the school newspaper. They contend that school officials violated their First Amendment rights by deleting two pages of articles from the May 13, 1983, issue of Spectrum. Spectrum was written and edited by the Journalism II class at Hazelwood East. The newspaper was published every three weeks or so during the 1982-1983 school year. More than 4,500 copies of the newspaper were distributed during that year to students, school personnel, and members of the community. The Board of Education allocated funds from its annual budget for the printing of Spectrum. These funds were supplemented by proceeds from sales of the newspaper. The printing expenses during the 1982-1983 school year totaled $4,668.50; revenue from sales was $1,166.84. The other costs associated with the newspaper--such as supplies, textbooks, [263] and a portion of the journalism teacher's salary--were borne entirely by the Board. The Journalism II course was taught by Robert Stergos for most of the 1982-1983 academic year. Stergos left Hazelwood East to take a job in private industry on April 29, 1983, when the May 13 edition of Spectrum was nearing completion, and petitioner Emerson took his place as newspaper adviser for the remaining weeks of the term. The practice at Hazelwood East during the spring 1983 semester was for the journalism teacher to submit page proofs of each Spectrum issue to Principal Reynolds for his review prior to publication. On May 10, Emerson delivered the proofs of the May 13 edition to Reynolds, who objected to two of the articles scheduled to appear in that edition. One of the stories described three Hazelwood East students' experiences with pregnancy; the other discussed the impact of divorce on students at the school. Reynolds was concerned that, although the pregnancy story used false names "to keep the identity of these girls a secret," the pregnant students still might be identifiable from the text. He also believed that the article's references to sexual activity and birth control were inappropriate for some of the younger students at the school. In addition, Reynolds was concerned that a student identified by name in the divorce story had complained that her father "wasn't spending enough time with my mom, my sister and I" prior to the divorce, "was always out of town on business or out late playing cards with the guys," and "always argued about everything" with her mother. App. to Pet. for Cert. 38. Reynolds believed that the student's parents should have been given an opportunity to respond to these remarks or to consent to their publication. He was unaware that Emerson had deleted the student's name from the final version of the article. Reynolds believed that there was no time to make the necessary changes in the stories before the scheduled press run [264] and that the newspaper would not appear before the end of the school year if printing were delayed to any significant extent. He concluded that his only options under the circumstances were to publish a four-page newspaper instead of the planned six-page newspaper, eliminating the two pages on which the offending stories appeared, or to publish no newspaper at all. Accordingly, he directed Emerson to withhold from publication the two pages containing the stories on pregnancy and divorce. [note 1] He informed his superiors of the decision, and they concurred. Respondents subsequently commenced this action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri seeking a declaration that their First Amendment rights had been violated, injunctive relief, and monetary damages. After a bench trial, the District Court denied an injunction, holding that no First Amendment violation had occurred. 607 F. Supp. 1450 (1985). The District Court concluded that school officials may impose restraints on students' speech in activities that are "'an integral part of the school's educational function'"--including the publication of a school-sponsored newspaper by a journalism class--so long as their decision has "'a substantial and reasonable basis.'" Id., at 1466 (quoting Frasca v. Andrews, 463 F. Supp. 1043, 1052 (EDNY 1979)). The court found that Principal Reynolds' concern that the pregnant students' anonymity would be lost and their privacy invaded was "legitimate and reasonable," given "the small number of pregnant students at Hazelwood East and several identifying characteristics that were disclosed in the article." 607 F. Supp., at 1466. The court held that Reynolds' action was also justified "to avoid the impression that [the school] endorses [265] the sexual norms of the subjects" and to shield younger students from exposure to unsuitable material. Ibid. The deletion of the article on divorce was seen by the court as a reasonable response to the invasion of privacy concerns raised by the named student's remarks. Because the article did not indicate that the student's parents had been offered an opportunity to respond to her allegations, said the court, there was cause for "serious doubt that the article complied with the rules of fairness which are standard in the field of journalism and which were covered in the textbook used in the Journalism II class." Id., at 1467. Furthermore, the court concluded that Reynolds was justified in deleting two full pages of the newspaper, instead of deleting only the pregnancy and divorce stories or requiring that those stories be modified to address his concerns, based on his "reasonable belief that he had to make an immediate decision and that there was no time to make modifications to the articles in question." Id., at 1466. The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed. 795 F. 2d 1368 (1986). The court held at the outset that Spectrum was not only "a part of the school adopted curriculum," id., at 1373, but also a public forum, because the newspaper was "intended to be and operated as a conduit for student viewpoint." Id., at 1372. The court then concluded that Spectrum's status as a public forum precluded school officials from censoring its contents except when "'necessary to avoid material and substantial interference with school work or discipline . . . or the rights of others.'" Id., at 1374 (quoting Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School Dist., 393 U.S. 503, 511 (1969)). The Court of Appeals found "no evidence in the record that the principal could have reasonably forecast that the censored articles or any materials in the censored articles would have materially disrupted classwork or given rise to substantial disorder in the school." 795 F. 2d, at 1375. School officials were entitled to censor the articles on the ground that [266] they invaded the rights of others, according to the court, only if publication of the articles could have resulted in tort liability to the school. The court concluded that no tort action for libel or invasion of privacy could have been maintained against the school by the subjects of the two articles or by their families. Accordingly, the court held that school officials had violated respondents' First Amendment rights by deleting the two pages of the newspaper. We granted certiorari, 479 U.S. 1053 (1987), and we now reverse. IIStudents in the public schools do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate." Tinker, supra, at 506. They cannot be punished merely for expressing their personal views on the school premises--whether "in the cafeteria, or on the playing field, or on the campus during the authorized hours," 393 U.S., at 512-513--unless school authorities have reason to believe that such expression will "substantially interfere with the work of the school or impinge upon the rights of other students." Id., at 509. We have nonetheless recognized that the First Amendment rights of students in the public schools "are not automatically coextensive with the rights of adults in other settings," Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675, 682 (1986), and must be "applied in light of the special characteristics of the school environment." Tinker, supra, at 506; cf. New Jersey v. TLO, 469 U.S. 325, 341-343 (1985). A school need not tolerate student speech that is inconsistent with its "basic educational mission," Fraser, supra, at 685, even though the government could not censor similar speech outside the school. Accordingly, we held in Fraser that a student could be disciplined for having delivered a speech that was "sexually explicit" but not legally obscene at an official school assembly, because the school was entitled to "disassociate itself" from the speech in a manner [267] that would demonstrate to others that such vulgarity is "wholly inconsistent with the 'fundamental values' of public school education." 478 U.S., at 685-686. We thus recognized that "[t]he determination of what manner of speech in the classroom or in school assembly is inappropriate properly rests with the school board," id., at 683, rather than with the federal courts. It is in this context that respondents' First Amendment claims must be considered. AWe deal first with the question whether Spectrum may appropriately be characterized as a forum for public expression. The public schools do not possess all of the attributes of streets, parks, and other traditional public forums that "time out of mind, have been used for purposes of assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and discussing public questions." Hague v. CIO, 307 U.S. 496, 515 (1939). Cf. Widmar v. Vincent, 454 U.S. 263, 267-268, n. 5 (1981). Hence, school facilities may be deemed to be public forums only if school authorities have "by policy or by practice" opened those facilities "for indiscriminate use by the general public," Perry Education Assn. v. Perry Local Educators' Assn., 460 U.S. 37, 47 (1983), or by some segment of the public, such as student organizations. Id., at 46, n. 7 (citing Widmar v. Vincent). If the facilities have instead been reserved for other intended purposes, "communicative or otherwise," then no public forum has been created, and school officials may impose reasonable restrictions on the speech of students, teachers, and other members of the school community. 460 U.S., at 46, n. 7. "The government does not create a public forum by inaction or by permitting limited discourse, but only by intentionally opening a nontraditional forum for public discourse." Cornelius v. NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc., 473 U.S. 788, 802 (1985). [268] The policy of school officials toward Spectrum was reflected in Hazelwood School Board Policy 348.51 and the Hazelwood East Curriculum Guide. Board Policy 348.51 provided that "[s]chool sponsored publications are developed within the adopted curriculum and its educational implications in regular classroom activities." App. 22. The Hazelwood East Curriculum Guide described the Journalism II course as a "laboratory situation in which the students publish the school newspaper applying skills they have learned in Journalism I." Id., at 11. The lessons that were to be learned from the Journalism II course, according to the Curriculum Guide, included development of journalistic skills under deadline pressure, "the legal, moral, and ethical restrictions imposed upon journalists within the school community," and "responsibility and acceptance of criticism for articles of opinion." Ibid. Journalism II was taught by a faculty member during regular class hours. Students received grades and academic credit for their performance in the course. School officials did not deviate in practice from their policy that production of Spectrum was to be part of the educational curriculum and a "regular classroom activit[y]." The District Court found that Robert Stergos, the journalism teacher during most of the 1982-1983 school year, "both had the authority to exercise and in fact exercised a great deal of control over Spectrum." 607 F. Supp., at 1453. For example, Stergos selected the editors of the newspaper, scheduled publication dates, decided the number of pages for each issue, assigned story ideas to class members, advised students on the development of their stories, reviewed the use of quotations, edited stories, selected and edited the letters to the editor, and dealt with the printing company. Many of these decisions were made without consultation with the Journalism II students. The District Court thus found it "clear that Mr. Stergos was the final authority with respect to almost every aspect of the production and publication of Spectrum, including its content." Ibid. Moreover, after [269] each Spectrum issue had been finally approved by Stergos or his successor, the issue still had to be reviewed by Principal Reynolds prior to publication. Respondents' assertion that they had believed that they could publish "practically anything" in Spectrum was therefore dismissed by the District Court as simply "not credible." Id., at 1456. These factual findings are amply supported by the record, and were not rejected as clearly erroneous by the Court of Appeals. The evidence relied upon by the Court of Appeals in finding Spectrum to be a public forum, see 795 F. 2d, at 1372-1373, is equivocal at best. For example, Board Policy 348.51, which stated in part that "[s]chool sponsored student publications will not restrict free expression or diverse viewpoints within the rules of responsible journalism," also stated that such publications were "developed within the adopted curriculum and its educational implications." App. 22. One might reasonably infer from the full text of Policy 348.51 that school officials retained ultimate control over what constituted "responsible journalism" in a school-sponsored newspaper. Although the Statement of Policy published in the September 14, 1982, issue of Spectrum declared that "Spectrum, as a student-press publication, accepts all rights implied by the First Amendment," this statement, understood in the context of the paper's role in the school's curriculum, suggests at most that the administration will not interfere with the students' exercise of those First Amendment rights that attend the publication of a school-sponsored newspaper. It does not reflect an intent to expand those rights by converting a curricular newspaper into a public forum. [note 2] Finally, [270] that students were permitted to exercise some authority over the contents of Spectrum was fully consistent with the Curriculum Guide objective of teaching the Journalism II students "leadership responsibilities as issue and page editors." App. 11. A decision to teach leadership skills in the context of a classroom activity hardly implies a decision to relinquish school control over that activity. In sum, the evidence relied upon by the Court of Appeals fails to demonstrate the "clear intent to create a public forum," Cornelius, 473 U.S., at 802, that existed in cases in which we found public forums to have been created. See id., at 802-803 (citing Widmar v. Vincent, 454 U.S., at 267; Madison School District v. Wisconsin Employment Relations Comm'n, 429 U.S. 167, 174, n. 6 (1976); Southeastern Promotions, Ltd. v. Conrad, 420 U.S. 546, 555 (1975)). School officials did not evince either "by policy or by practice," Perry Education Assn., 460 U.S., at 47, any intent to open the pages of Spectrum to "indiscriminate use," ibid., by its student reporters and editors, or by the student body generally. Instead, they "reserve[d] the forum for its intended purpos[e]," id., at 46, as a supervised learning experience for journalism students. Accordingly, school officials were entitled to regulate the contents of Spectrum in any reasonable manner. Ibid. It is this standard, rather than our decision in Tinker, that governs this case. The question whether the First Amendment requires a school to tolerate particular student speech--the question that we addressed in Tinker--is different from the question whether the First Amendment requires a school affirmatively [271] to promote particular student speech. The former question addresses educators' ability to silence a student's personal expression that happens to occur on the school premises. The latter question concerns educators' authority over school-sponsored publications, theatrical productions, and other expressive activities that students, parents, and members of the public might reasonably perceive to bear the imprimatur of the school. These activities may fairly be characterized as part of the school curriculum, whether or not they occur in a traditional classroom setting, so long as they are supervised by faculty members and designed to impart particular knowledge or skills to student participants and audiences. [note 3] Educators are entitled to exercise greater control over this second form of student expression to assure that participants learn whatever lessons the activity is designed to teach, that readers or listeners are not exposed to material that may be inappropriate for their level of maturity, and that the views of the individual speaker are not erroneously attributed to the school. Hence, a school may in its capacity as publisher of a school newspaper or producer of a school play "disassociate itself," Fraser, 478 U.S., at 685, not only from speech that would "substantially interfere with [its] work . . . or impinge upon the rights of other students," Tinker, 393 U.S., at 509, but also from speech that is, for example, ungrammatical, poorly written, inadequately researched, biased or prejudiced, vulgar or profane, or unsuitable for immature audiences. [note 4] A school must be able to set high standards for [272] the student speech that is disseminated under its auspices--standards that may be higher than those demanded by some newspaper publishers or theatrical producers in the "real" world--and may refuse to disseminate student speech that does not meet those standards. In addition, a school must be able to take into account the emotional maturity of the intended audience in determining whether to disseminate student speech on potentially sensitive topics, which might range from the existence of Santa Claus in an elementary school setting to the particulars of teenage sexual activity in a high school setting. A school must also retain the authority to refuse to sponsor student speech that might reasonably be perceived to advocate drug or alcohol use, irresponsible sex, or conduct otherwise inconsistent with "the shared values of a civilized social order," Fraser, supra, at 683, or to associate the school with any position other than neutrality on matters of political controversy. Otherwise, the schools would be unduly constrained from fulfilling their role as "a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment." Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483, 493 (1954). Accordingly, we conclude that the standard articulated in Tinker for determining when a school may punish student expression need not also be the standard for determining when a school may refuse to lend its name and resources to the dissemination [273] of student expression. [note 5] Instead, we hold that 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. [note 6] This standard is consistent with our oft-expressed view that the education of the Nation's youth is primarily the responsibility of parents, teachers, and state and local school officials, and not of federal judges. See, e.g., Board of Education of Hendrick Hudson Central School Dist. v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176, 208 (1982); Wood v. Strickland, 420 U.S. 308, 326 (1975); Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97, 104 (1968). It is only when the decision to censor a school-sponsored publication, theatrical production, or other vehicle of student expression has no valid educational purpose that the First Amendment is so "directly and sharply implicate[d]," ibid., as to require judicial intervention to protect students' constitutional rights. [note 7] [274] IIIWe also conclude that Principal Reynolds acted reasonably in requiring the deletion from the May 13 issue of Spectrum of the pregnancy article, the divorce article, and the remaining articles that were to appear on the same pages of the newspaper. The initial paragraph of the pregnancy article declared that "[a]ll names have been changed to keep the identity of these girls a secret." The principal concluded that the students' anonymity was not adequately protected, however, given the other identifying information in the article and the small number of pregnant students at the school. Indeed, a teacher at the school credibly testified that she could positively identify at least one of the girls and possibly all three. It is likely that many students at Hazelwood East would have been at least as successful in identifying the girls. Reynolds therefore could reasonably have feared that the article violated whatever pledge of anonymity had been given to the pregnant students. In addition, he could reasonably have been concerned that the article was not sufficiently sensitive to the privacy interests of the students' boyfriends and parents, who were discussed in the article but who were given no opportunity to consent to its publication or to offer a response. The article did not contain graphic accounts of sexual activity. The girls did comment in the article, however, concerning their sexual histories and their use or nonuse of birth control. It was not unreasonable for the principal to have concluded that such frank talk was inappropriate in a school-sponsored publication distributed to 14-year-old freshmen [275] and presumably taken home to be read by students' even younger brothers and sisters. The student who was quoted by name in the version of the divorce article seen by Principal Reynolds made comments sharply critical of her father. The principal could reasonably have concluded that an individual publicly identified as an inattentive parent--indeed, as one who chose "playing cards with the guys" over home and family--was entitled to an opportunity to defend himself as a matter of journalistic fairness. These concerns were shared by both of Spectrum's faculty advisers for the 1982-1983 school year, who testified that they would not have allowed the article to be printed without deletion of the student's name. [note 8] Principal Reynolds testified credibly at trial that, at the time that he reviewed the proofs of the May 13 issue during an extended telephone conversation with Emerson, he believed that there was no time to make any changes in the articles, and that the newspaper had to be printed immediately or not at all. It is true that Reynolds did not verify whether the necessary modifications could still have been made in the articles, and that Emerson did not volunteer the information that printing could be delayed until the changes were made. We nonetheless agree with the District Court that the decision to excise the two pages containing the problematic articles was reasonable given the particular circumstances of this case. These circumstances included the very recent [276] replacement of Stergos by Emerson, who may not have been entirely familiar with Spectrum editorial and production procedures, and the pressure felt by Reynolds to make an immediate decision so that students would not be deprived of the newspaper altogether. In sum, we cannot reject as unreasonable Principal Reynolds' conclusion that neither the pregnancy article nor the divorce article was suitable for publication in Spectrum. Reynolds could reasonably have concluded that the students who had written and edited these articles had not sufficiently mastered those portions of the Journalism II curriculum that pertained to the treatment of controversial issues and personal attacks, the need to protect the privacy of individuals whose most intimate concerns are to be revealed in the newspaper, and "the legal, moral, and ethical restrictions imposed upon journalists within [a] school community" that includes adolescent subjects and readers. Finally, we conclude that the principal's decision to delete two pages of Spectrum, rather than to delete only the offending articles or to require that they be modified, was reasonable under the circumstances as he understood them. Accordingly, no violation of First Amendment rights occurred. [note 9] The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit is therefore Reversed. [277] JUSTICE BRENNAN, with whom JUSTICE MARSHALL and JUSTICE BLACKMUN join, dissenting. When the young men and women of Hazelwood East High School registered for Journalism II, they expected a civics lesson. Spectrum, the newspaper they were to publish, "was not just a class exercise in which students learned to prepare papers and hone writing skills, it was a . . . forum established to give students an opportunity to express their views while gaining an appreciation of their rights and responsibilities under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution . . . ." 795 F. 2d 1368, 1373 (CA8 1986). "[A]t the beginning of each school year," id., at 1372, the student journalists published a Statement of Policy--tacitly approved each year by school authorities--announcing their expectation that "Spectrum, as a student-press publication, accepts all rights implied by the First Amendment . . . . Only speech that 'materially and substantially interferes with the requirements of appropriate discipline' can be found unacceptable and therefore prohibited." App. 26 (quoting Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School Dist., 393 U.S. 503, 513 (1969)). [note 1] The school board itself affirmatively guaranteed the students of Journalism II an atmosphere conducive to fostering such an appreciation and exercising the full panoply of rights associated with a free student press. "School sponsored student publications," it vowed, "will not restrict free expression or diverse viewpoints within the rules of responsible journalism." App. 22 (Board Policy 348.51). [278] This case arose when the Hazelwood East administration breached its own promise, dashing its students' expectations. The school principal, without prior consultation or explanation, excised six articles--comprising two full pages--of the May 13, 1983, issue of Spectrum. He did so not because any of the articles would "materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline," but simply because he considered two of the six "inappropriate, personal, sensitive, and unsuitable" for student consumption. 795 F. 2d, at 1371. In my view the principal broke more than just a promise. He violated the First Amendment's prohibitions against censorship of any student expression that neither disrupts classwork nor invades the rights of others, and against any censorship that is not narrowly tailored to serve its purpose. IPublic education serves vital national interests in preparing the Nation's youth for life in our increasingly complex society and for the duties of citizenship in our democratic Republic. See Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483, 493 (1954). The public school conveys to our young the information and tools required not merely to survive in, but to contribute to, civilized society. It also inculcates in tomorrow's leaders the "fundamental values necessary to the maintenance of a democratic political system . . . ." Ambach v. Norwick, 441 U.S. 68, 77 (1979). All the while, the public educator nurtures students' social and moral development by transmitting to them an official dogma of "'community values.'" Board of Education v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853, 864 (1982) (plurality opinion) (citation omitted). The public educator's task is weighty and delicate indeed. It demands particularized and supremely subjective choices among diverse curricula, moral values, and political stances to teach or inculcate in students, and among various methodologies for doing so. Accordingly, we have traditionally reserved [279] the "daily operation of school systems" to the States and their local school boards. Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97, 104 (1968); see Board of Education v. Pico, supra, at 863-864. We have not, however, hesitated to intervene where their decisions run afoul of the Constitution. See e.g., Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578 (1987) (striking state statute that forbade teaching of evolution in public school unless accompanied by instruction on theory of "creation science"); Board of Education v. Pico, supra (school board may not remove books from library shelves merely because it disapproves of ideas they express); Epperson v. Arkansas, supra (striking state-law prohibition against teaching Darwinian theory of evolution in public school); West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943) (public school may not compel student to salute flag); Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923) (state law prohibiting the teaching of foreign languages in public or private schools is unconstitutional). Free student expression undoubtedly sometimes interferes with the effectiveness of the school's pedagogical functions. Some brands of student expression do so by directly preventing the school from pursuing its pedagogical mission: The young polemic who stands on a soapbox during calculus class to deliver an eloquent political diatribe interferes with the legitimate teaching of calculus. And the student who delivers a lewd endorsement of a student-government candidate might so extremely distract an impressionable high school audience as to interfere with the orderly operation of the school. See Bethel School Dist. No. 403 v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675 (1986). Other student speech, however, frustrates the school's legitimate pedagogical purposes merely by expressing a message that conflicts with the school's, without directly interfering with the school's expression of its message: A student who responds to a political science teacher's question with the retort, "socialism is good," subverts the school's inculcation of the message that capitalism is better. [280] Even the maverick who sits in class passively sporting a symbol of protest against a government policy, cf. Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School Dist., 393 U.S. 503 (1969), or the gossip who sits in the student commons swapping stories of sexual escapade could readily muddle a clear official message condoning the government policy or condemning teenage sex. Likewise, the student newspaper that, like Spectrum, conveys a moral position at odds with the school's official stance might subvert the administration's legitimate inculcation of its own perception of community values. If mere incompatibility with the school's pedagogical message were a constitutionally sufficient justification for the suppression of student speech, school officials could censor each of the students or student organizations in the foregoing hypotheticals, converting our public schools into "enclaves of totalitarianism," id., at 511, that "strangle the free mind at its source," West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, supra, at 637. The First Amendment permits no such blanket censorship authority. While the "constitutional rights of students in public school are not automatically coextensive with the rights of adults in other settings," Fraser, supra, at 682, students in the public schools do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate," Tinker, supra, at 506. Just as the public on the street corner must, in the interest of fostering "enlightened opinion," Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 310 (1940), tolerate speech that "tempt[s] [the listener] to throw [the speaker] off the street," id., at 309, public educators must accommodate some student expression even if it offends them or offers views or values that contradict those the school wishes to inculcate. In Tinker, this Court struck the balance. We held that official censorship of student expression--there the suspension of several students until they removed their armbands protesting the Vietnam war--is unconstitutional unless the [281] speech "materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others . . . ." 393 U.S., at 513. School officials may not suppress "silent, passive expression of opinion, unaccompanied by any disorder or disturbance on the part of" the speaker. Id., at 508. The "mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint," id., at 509, or an unsavory subject, Fraser, supra, at 688-689 (BRENNAN, J., concurring in judgment), does not justify official suppression of student speech in the high school. This Court applied the Tinker test just a Term ago in Fraser, supra, upholding an official decision to discipline a student for delivering a lewd speech in support of a student-government candidate. The Court today casts no doubt on Tinker's vitality. Instead it erects a taxonomy of school censorship, concluding that Tinker applies to one category and not another. On the one hand is censorship "to silence a student's personal expression that happens to occur on the school premises." Ante, at 271. On the other hand is censorship of expression that arises in the context of "school-sponsored . . . expressive activities that students, parents, and members of the public might reasonably perceive to bear the imprimatur of the school." Ibid. The Court does not, for it cannot, purport to discern from our precedents the distinction it creates. One could, I suppose, readily characterize the students' symbolic speech in Tinker as "personal expression that happens to [have] occur[red] on school premises," although Tinker did not even hint that the personal nature of the speech was of any (much less dispositive) relevance. But that same description could not by any stretch of the imagination fit Fraser's speech. He did not just "happen" to deliver his lewd speech to an ad hoc gathering on the playground. As the second paragraph of Fraser evinces, if ever a forum for student expression was "school-sponsored," Fraser's was: [282] "Fraser . . . delivered a speech nominating a fellow student for student elective office. Approximately 600 high school students . . . attended the assembly. Students were required to attend the assembly or to report to the study hall. The assembly was part of a school-sponsored educational program in self-government." Fraser, 478 U.S., at 677 (emphasis added).Yet, from the first sentence of its analysis, see id., at 680, Fraser faithfully applied Tinker. Nor has this Court ever intimated a distinction between personal and school-sponsored speech in any other context. Particularly telling is this Court's heavy reliance on Tinker in two cases of First Amendment infringement on state college campuses. See Papish v. University of Missouri Board of Curators, 410 U.S. 667, 671, n. 6 (1973) (per curiam); Healy v. James, 408 U.S. 169, 180, 189, and n. 18, 191 (1972). One involved the expulsion of a student for lewd expression in a newspaper that she sold on campus pursuant to university authorization, see Papish, supra, at 667-668, and the other involved the denial of university recognition and concomitant benefits to a political student organization, see Healy, supra, at 174, 176, 181-182. Tracking Tinker's analysis, the Court found each act of suppression unconstitutional. In neither case did this Court suggest the distinction, which the Court today finds dispositive, between school-sponsored and incidental student expression. IIEven if we were writing on a clean slate, I would reject the Court's rationale for abandoning Tinker in this case. The Court offers no more than an obscure tangle of three excuses to afford educators "greater control" over school-sponsored speech than the Tinker test would permit: the public educator's prerogative to control curriculum; the pedagogical interest in shielding the high school audience from objectionable viewpoints and sensitive topics; and the school's need [283] to dissociate itself from student expression. Ante, at 271. None of the excuses, once disentangled, supports the distinction that the Court draws. Tinker fully addresses the first concern; the second is illegitimate; and the third is readily achievable through less oppressive means. AThe Court is certainly correct that the First Amendment permits educators "to assure that participants learn whatever lessons the activity is designed to teach . . . ." Ante, at 271. That is, however, the essence of the Tinker test, not an excuse to abandon it. Under Tinker, school officials may censor only such student speech as would "materially disrup[t]" a legitimate curricular function. Manifestly, student speech is more likely to disrupt a curricular function when it arises in the context of a curricular activity--one that "is designed to teach" something--than when it arises in the context of a noncurricular activity. Thus, under Tinker, the school may constitutionally punish the budding political orator if he disrupts calculus class but not if he holds his tongue for the cafeteria. See Consolidated Edison Co. v. Public Service Comm'n of New York, 447 U.S. 530, 544-545 (1980) (STEVENS, J., concurring in judgment). That is not because some more stringent standard applies in the curricular context. (After all, this Court applied the same standard whether the students in Tinker wore their armbands to the "classroom" or the "cafeteria." 393 U.S., at 512.) It is because student speech in the noncurricular context is less likely to disrupt materially any legitimate pedagogical purpose. I fully agree with the Court that the First Amendment should afford an educator the prerogative not to sponsor the publication of a newspaper article that is "ungrammatical, poorly written, inadequately researched, biased or prejudiced," or that falls short of the "high standards for . . . student speech that is disseminated under [the school's] auspices . . . ." Ante, at 271-272. But we need not abandon Tinker [284] to reach that conclusion; we need only apply it. The enumerated criteria reflect the skills that the curricular newspaper "is designed to teach." The educator may, under Tinker, constitutionally "censor" poor grammar, writing, or research because to reward such expression would "materially disrup[t]" the newspaper's curricular purpose. The same cannot be said of official censorship designed to shield the audience or dissociate the sponsor from the expression. Censorship so motivated might well serve (although, as I demonstrate infra, at 285-289, cannot legitimately serve) some other school purpose. But it in no way furthers the curricular purposes of a student newspaper, unless one believes that the purpose of the school newspaper is to teach students that the press ought never report bad news, express unpopular views, or print a thought that might upset its sponsors. Unsurprisingly, Hazelwood East claims no such pedagogical purpose. The Court relies on bits of testimony to portray the principal's conduct as a pedagogical lesson to Journalism II students who "had not sufficiently mastered those portions of the . . . curriculum that pertained to the treatment of controversial issues and personal attacks, the need to protect the privacy of individuals . . ., and 'the legal, moral, and ethical restrictions imposed upon journalists . . . .'" Ante, at 276. In that regard, the Court attempts to justify censorship of the article on teenage pregnancy on the basis of the principal's judgment that (1) "the [pregnant] students' anonymity was not adequately protected," despite the article's use of aliases; and (2) the judgment that "the article was not sufficiently sensitive to the privacy interests of the students' boyfriends and parents . . . ." Ante, at 274. Similarly, the Court finds in the principal's decision to censor the divorce article a journalistic lesson that the author should have given the father of one student an "opportunity to defend himself" against her charge that (in the Court's words) he "chose [285] 'playing cards with the guys' over home and family . . . ." Ante, at 275. But the principal never consulted the students before censoring their work. "[T]hey learned of the deletions when the paper was released . . . ." 795 F. 2d, at 1371. Further, he explained the deletions only in the broadest of generalities. In one meeting called at the behest of seven protesting Spectrum staff members (presumably a fraction of the full class), he characterized the articles as "'too sensitive' for 'our immature audience of readers,'" 607 F. Supp. 1450, 1459 (ED Mo. 1985), and in a later meeting he deemed them simply "inappropriate, personal, sensitive and unsuitable for the newspaper," ibid. The Court's supposition that the principal intended (or the protesters understood) those generalities as a lesson on the nuances of journalistic responsibility is utterly incredible. If he did, a fact that neither the District Court nor the Court of Appeals found, the lesson was lost on all but the psychic Spectrum staffer. BThe Court's second excuse for deviating from precedent is the school's interest in shielding an impressionable high school audience from material whose substance is "unsuitable for immature audiences." Ante, at 271 (footnote omitted). Specifically, the majority decrees that we must afford educators authority to shield high school students from exposure to "potentially sensitive topics" (like "the particulars of teen-age sexual activity") or unacceptable social viewpoints (like the advocacy of "irresponsible se[x] or conduct otherwise inconsistent with 'the shared values of a civilized social order'") through school-sponsored student activities. Ante, at 272 (citation omitted). Tinker teaches us that the state educator's undeniable, and undeniably vital, mandate to inculcate moral and political values is not a general warrant to act as "thought police" stifling discussion of all but state-approved topics and advocacy of all [286] but the official position. See also Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97 (1968); Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923). Otherwise educators could transform students into "closed-circuit recipients of only that which the State chooses to communicate," Tinker, 393 U.S., at 511, and cast a perverse and impermissible "pall of orthodoxy over the classroom," Keyishian v. Board of Regents, 385 U.S. 589, 603 (1967). Thus, the State cannot constitutionally prohibit its high school students from recounting in the locker room "the particulars of [their] teen-age sexual activity," nor even from advocating "irresponsible se[x]" or other presumed abominations of "the shared values of a civilized social order." Even in its capacity as educator the State may not assume an Orwellian "guardianship of the public mind," Thomas v. Collins, 323 U.S. 516, 545 (1945) (Jackson, J., concurring). The mere fact of school sponsorship does not, as the Court suggests, license such thought control in the high school, whether through school suppression of disfavored viewpoints or through official assessment of topic sensitivity. [note 2] The former would constitute unabashed and unconstitutional viewpoint [287] discrimination, see Board of Education v. Pico, 457 U.S., at 878-879 (BLACKMUN, J., concurring in part and concurring in judgment), as well as an impermissible infringement of the students' "'right to receive information and ideas,'" id., at 867 (plurality opinion) (citations omitted); see First National Bank v. Bellotti, 435 U.S. 765, 783 (1978). [note 3] Just as a school board may not purge its state-funded library of all books that "'offen[d] [its] social, political and moral tastes,'" 457 U.S., at 858-859 (plurality opinion) (citation omitted), school officials may not, out of like motivation, discriminatorily excise objectionable ideas from a student publication. The State's prerogative to dissolve the student newspaper entirely (or to limit its subject matter) no more entitles it to dictate which viewpoints students may express on its pages, than the State's prerogative to close down the schoolhouse entitles it to prohibit the nondisruptive expression of antiwar sentiment within its gates. Official censorship of student speech on the ground that it addresses "potentially sensitive topics" is, for related reasons, equally impermissible. I would not begrudge an educator the authority to limit the substantive scope of a school-sponsored publication to a certain, objectively definable topic, such as literary criticism, school sports, or an overview of the school year. Unlike those determinate limitations, "potential topic sensitivity" is a vaporous nonstandard--like "'public welfare, peace, safety, health, decency, good order, morals or convenience,'" Shuttlesworth v. Birmingham, 394 U.S. 147, 150 (1969), or "'general welfare of citizens,'" Staub v. Baxley, 355 U.S. 313, 322 (1958)--that invites manipulation to achieve ends that cannot permissibly be achieved through blatant viewpoint discrimination and chills student speech to which school officials might not [288] object. In part because of those dangers, this Court has consistently condemned any scheme allowing a state official boundless discretion in licensing speech from a particular forum. See, e.g., Shuttlesworth v. Birmingham, supra, at 150-151, and n. 2; Cox v. Louisiana, 379 U.S. 536, 557-558 (1965); Staub v. Baxley, supra, at 322-324. The case before us aptly illustrates how readily school officials (and courts) can camouflage viewpoint discrimination as the "mere" protection of students from sensitive topics. Among the grounds that the Court advances to uphold the principal's censorship of one of the articles was the potential sensitivity of "teenage sexual activity." Ante, at 272. Yet the District Court specifically found that the principal "did not, as a matter of principle, oppose discussion of said topi[c] in Spectrum." 607 F. Supp., at 1467. That much is also clear from the same principal's approval of the "squeal law" article on the same page, dealing forthrightly with "teenage sexuality," "the use of contraceptives by teenagers," and "teenage pregnancy," App. 4-5. If topic sensitivity were the true basis of the principal's decision, the two articles should have been equally objectionable. It is much more likely that the objectionable article was objectionable because of the viewpoint it expressed: It might have been read (as the majority apparently does) to advocate "irresponsible sex." See ante, at 272. CThe sole concomitant of school sponsorship that might conceivably justify the distinction that the Court draws between sponsored and nonsponsored student expression is the risk "that the views of the individual speaker [might be] erroneously attributed to the school." Ante, at 271. Of course, the risk of erroneous attribution inheres in any student expression, including "personal expression" that, like the armbands in Tinker, "happens to occur on the school premises," ante, at 271. Nevertheless, the majority is certainly correct that indicia of school sponsorship increase the likelihood [289] of such attribution, and that state educators may therefore have a legitimate interest in dissociating themselves from student speech. But "'[e]ven though the governmental purpose be legitimate and substantial, that purpose cannot be pursued by means that broadly stifle fundamental personal liberties when the end can be more narrowly achieved.'" Keyishian v. Board of Regents, 385 U.S., at 602 (quoting Shelton v. Tucker, 364 U.S. 479, 488 (1960)). Dissociative means short of censorship are available to the school. It could, for example, require the student activity to publish a disclaimer, such as the "Statement of Policy" that Spectrum published each school year announcing that "[a]ll . . . editorials appearing in this newspaper reflect the opinions of the Spectrum staff, which are not necessarily shared by the administrators or faculty of Hazelwood East," App. 26; or it could simply issue its own response clarifying the official position on the matter and explaining why the student position is wrong. Yet, without so much as acknowledging the less oppressive alternatives, the Court approves of brutal censorship. IIISince the censorship served no legitimate pedagogical purpose, it cannot by any stretch of the imagination have been designed to prevent "materia[l] disrup[tion of] classwork," Tinker, 393 U.S., at 513. Nor did the censorship fall within the category that Tinker described as necessary to prevent student expression from "inva[ding] the rights of others," ibid. If that term is to have any content, it must be limited to rights that are protected by law. "Any yardstick less exacting than [that] could result in school officials curtailing speech at the slightest fear of disturbance," 795 F. 2d, at 1376, a prospect that would be completely at odds with this Court's pronouncement that the "undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance is not enough [even in the public school context] to overcome the right to freedom of expression." [290] Tinker, supra, at 508. And, as the Court of Appeals correctly reasoned, whatever journalistic impropriety these articles may have contained, they could not conceivably be tortious, much less criminal. See 795 F. 2d, at 1375-1376. Finally, even if the majority were correct that the principal could constitutionally have censored the objectionable material, I would emphatically object to the brutal manner in which he did so. Where "[t]he separation of legitimate from illegitimate speech calls for more sensitive tools" Speiser v. Randall, 357 U.S. 513, 525 (1958); see Keyishian v. Board of Regents, supra, at 602, the principal used a paper shredder. He objected to some material in two articles, but excised six entire articles. He did not so much as inquire into obvious alternatives, such as precise deletions or additions (one of which had already been made), rearranging the layout, or delaying publication. Such unthinking contempt for individual rights is intolerable from any state official. It is particularly insidious from one to whom the public entrusts the task of inculcating in its youth an appreciation for the cherished democratic liberties that our Constitution guarantees. IVThe Court opens its analysis in this case by purporting to reaffirm Tinker's time-tested proposition that public school students "do not 'shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.'" Ante, at 266 (quoting Tinker, supra, at 506). That is an ironic introduction to an opinion that denudes high school students of much of the First Amendment protection that Tinker itself prescribed. Instead of "teach[ing] children to respect the diversity of ideas that is fundamental to the American system," Board of Education v. Pico, 457 U.S., at 880 (BLACKMUN, J., concurring in part and concurring in judgment), and "that our Constitution is a living reality, not parchment preserved under glass," Shanley v. Northeast Independent School Dist., Bexar Cty., Tex., 462 F. 2d 960, 972 (CA5 [291] 1972), the Court today "teach[es] youth to discount important principles of our government as mere platitudes." West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S., at 637. The young men and women of Hazelwood East expected a civics lesson, but not the one the Court teaches them today. I dissent. Footnotes to the Majority Opinion1. The two pages deleted from the newspaper also contained articles on teenage marriage, runaways, and juvenile delinquents, as well as a general article on teenage pregnancy. Reynolds testified that he had no objection to these articles and that they were deleted only because they appeared on the same pages as the two objectionable articles. 2. The Statement also cited Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School Dist., 393 U.S. 503 (1969), for the proposition that "[o]nly speech that 'materially and substantially interferes with the requirements of appropriate discipline' can be found unacceptable and therefore be prohibited." App. 26. This portion of the Statement does not, of course, even accurately reflect our holding in Tinker. Furthermore, the Statement nowhere expressly extended the Tinker standard to the news and feature articles contained in a school-sponsored newspaper. The dissent apparently finds as a fact that the Statement was published annually in Spectrum; however, the District Court was unable to conclude that the Statement appeared on more than one occasion. In any event, even if the Statement says what the dissent believes that it says, the evidence that school officials never intended to designate Spectrum as a public forum remains overwhelming. 3. The distinction that we draw between speech that is sponsored by the school and speech that is not is fully consistent with Papish v. University of Missouri Board of Curators, 410 U.S. 667 (1973) (per curiam), which involved an off-campus "underground" newspaper that school officials merely had allowed to be sold on a state university campus. 4. The dissent perceives no difference between the First Amendment analysis applied in Tinker and that applied in Fraser. We disagree. The decision in Fraser rested on the "vulgar," "lewd," and "plainly offensive" character of a speech delivered at an official school assembly rather than on any propensity of the speech to "materially disrup[t] classwork or involv[e] substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others." 393 U.S., at 513. Indeed, the Fraser Court cited as "especially relevant" a portion of Justice Black's dissenting opinion in Tinker "'disclaim[ing] any purpose . . . to hold that the Federal Constitution compels the teachers, parents, and elected school officials to surrender control of the American public school system to public school students.'" 478 U.S., at 686 (quoting 393 U.S., at 526). Of course, Justice Black's observations are equally relevant to the instant case. 5. We therefore need not decide whether the Court of Appeals correctly construed Tinker as precluding school officials from censoring student speech to avoid "invasion of the rights of others," 393 U.S., at 513, except where that speech could result in tort liability to the school. 6. We reject respondents' suggestion that school officials be permitted to exercise prepublication control over school-sponsored publications only pursuant to specific written regulations. To require such regulations in the context of a curricular activity could unduly constrain the ability of educators to educate. We need not now decide whether such regulations are required before school officials may censor publications not sponsored by the school that students seek to distribute on school grounds. See Baughman v. Freienmuth, 478 F. 2d 1345 (CA4 1973); Shanley v. Northeast Independent School Dist., Bexar Cty., Tex., 462 F. 2d 960 (CA5 1972); Eisner v. Stamford Board of Education, 440 F. 2d 803 (CA2 1971). 7. A number of lower federal courts have similarly recognized that educators' decisions with regard to the content of school-sponsored newspapers, dramatic productions, and other expressive activities are entitled to substantial deference. See, e.g., Nicholson v. Board of Education, Torrance Unified School Dist., 682 F. 2d 858 (CA9 1982); Seyfried v. Walton, 668 F. 2d 214 (CA3 1981); Trachtman v. Anker, 563 F. 2d 512 (CA2 1977), cert. denied, 435 U.S. 925 (1978); Frasca v. Andrews, 463 F. Supp. 1043 (EDNY 1979). We need not now decide whether the same degree of deference is appropriate with respect to school-sponsored expressive activities at the college and university level. 8. The reasonableness of Principal Reynolds' concerns about the two articles was further substantiated by the trial testimony of Martin Duggan, a former editorial page editor of the St. Louis Globe Democrat and a former college journalism instructor and newspaper adviser. Duggan testified that the divorce story did not meet journalistic standards of fairness and balance because the father was not given an opportunity to respond, and that the pregnancy story was not appropriate for publication in a high school newspaper because it was unduly intrusive into the privacy of the girls, their parents, and their boyfriends. The District Court found Duggan to be "an objective and independent witness" whose testimony was entitled to significant weight. 607 F. Supp. 1450, 1461 (ED Mo. 1985). 9. It is likely that the approach urged by the dissent would as a practical matter have far more deleterious consequences for the student press than does the approach that we adopt today. The dissent correctly acknowledges "[t]he State's prerogative to dissolve the student newspaper entirely." Post, at 287. It is likely that many public schools would do just that rather than open their newspapers to all student expression that does not threaten "materia[l] disrup[tion of] classwork" or violation of "rights that are protected by law," post, at 289, regardless of how sexually explicit, racially intemperate, or personally insulting that expression otherwise might be. Footnotes to Justice Brennan's Dissenting Opinion1. The Court suggests that the passage quoted in the text did not "exten[d] the Tinker standard to the news and feature articles contained in a school-sponsored newspaper" because the passage



Kincaid v. Gibson

(01/05/01 12:00am)

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit. Charles KINCAID, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated; Capri Coffer, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Betty GIBSON, et al., Defendants-Appellees. 236 F.3d 342 (6th Cir.)(en banc) No. 98-5385. Argued May 30, 2000. Decided and Filed Jan. 5, 2001. Ryan, Circuit Judge, concurred and filed statement. Boggs, Circuit Judge, concurred in part, dissented in part and filed opinion. Alan E. Norris, Circuit Judge, dissented and filed opinion. *344 Winter R. Huff (argued and briefed), Law Offices of John G. Prather, Somerset, KY, D. Bruce Orwin (briefed), Somerset, KY, for Plaintiffs-Appellants. J. Guthrie True (argued and briefed), Johnson, Judy, True & Guarnieri, Frankfort, KY, for defendants-Appellees. Richard M. Goehler, Frost & Jacobs, Cincinnati, OH, for Amicus Curiae Student Press Law Center. Ann K. Benfield, Louisville, KY, for Amici Curiae American Civil Liberties Union, American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, American Association of University Professors, Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, National Campaign for the Freedom of Expression, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English. Michael J. Wahoske, Dorsey & Whitney, Minneapolis, MN, for Amici Curiae Society of Professional Journalists, American Society of Newspaper Editors, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, National Federation of Press Women. Before MARTIN, Chief Judge; MERRITT, RYAN, BOGGS, NORRIS, SUHRHEINRICH, SILER, BATCHELDER, DAUGHTREY, MOORE, COLE, CLAY, and GILMAN, Circuit Judges. COLE, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which BOYCE F. MARTIN, C.J., MERRITT, SILER, DAUGHTREY, MOORE, CLAY, and GILMAN, JJ., joined. RYAN, J. (p. 358), delivered a separate concurring opinion. BOGGS, J. (pp. 358-59), delivered a separate opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part. ALAN E. NORRIS, J. (p. 359), delivered a separate dissenting opinion, in which SUHRHEINRICH and BATCHELDER, JJ., joined. >* * * * * OPINION COLE, Circuit Judge. Plaintiffs-Appellants Charles Kincaid and Capri Coffer appeal the district court's grant of summary judgment upholding Defendants-Appellees' confiscation and ban on distribution of a college yearbook edited by Coffer. Upon en banc review, we determine that the KSU officials violated the First Amendment rights of Kincaid and Coffer. Accordingly, we REVERSE the order of the district court and REMAND the case with instructions to enter judgment in favor of Kincaid and Coffer and to determine the relief to which they are entitled. See, e.g., Leila Hosp. and Health Ctr. v. Bowen, 873 F.2d 132, 134 (6th Cir.1989).I. BACKGROUND A. Factual Background At the times relevant to this case, both Kincaid and Coffer were registered students at Kentucky State University ("KSU"), a public, state-funded university. Betty Gibson was KSU's Vice President for Student Affairs. KSU funded production and distribution of The Thorobred, the student yearbook.(1) KSU students composed and produced The Thorobred, with limited advice from the university's student publications advisor, as discussed infra. Coffer served as the editor of the yearbook during the 1993-94 academic year. Although a student-photographer and at least one other student assisted her at one point, Coffer organized and put together the yearbook herself after her staff members lost interest in the project. Coffer endeavored to "do something different" with the yearbook in order to "bring Kentucky State University into the nineties"; she also sought to "present a yearbook to the student population that was what they [had] never seen before." To these ends, Coffer created a purple cover using a material known as "rain shower foil stamp," and, for the first time, gave the yearbook a theme. The theme, "destination unknown," described the atmosphere of "uncertainty" that Coffer believed characterized the time; Coffer found evidence of this uncertainty in students wondering "where are we going in our lives," in high unemployment rates, and in a current controversy regarding whether KSU was going to become a community college. Coffer included pictures in the yearbook depicting events at KSU and in its surrounding community, and political and current events in the nation and world at large. The yearbook covered both the 1992-93 and 1993-94 academic years because the students working on the 1992-93 yearbook had fallen behind schedule. Although the yearbook was originally projected to contain 224 pages, Coffer testified that the final product contained only 128 pages, because she did not have enough pictures to fill 224 pages and because the university administration took no interest in the publication. Coffer completed the yearbook several thousand dollars under budget, and sent the yearbook to the printer in May or June of 1994. When the yearbook came back from the printer in November 1994, Gibson objected to several aspects of it, finding the publication to be of poor quality and "inappropriate." In particular, Gibson objected to the yearbook's purple cover (KSU's school colors are green and gold), its "destination unknown" theme, the lack of captions under many of the photos, and the inclusion of current events ostensibly unrelated to KSU. After consulting with KSU President Mary Smith and other unnamed university officials, Gibson and Smith decided to confiscate the yearbooks and to withhold them from the KSU community. Gibson contacted Leslie Thomas, KSU's Director of Student Life, and instructed her to secure the yearbooks so that they would not be distributed. Thomas contacted KSU's director for service management, who ensured that the yearbooks were secured. Although Gibson's intention was "perhaps [to] discard [the yearbooks]," Gibson's counsel indicated at oral argument that the yearbooks remain hidden away on KSU's campus.B. Procedural Background In November 1995, Kincaid and Coffer sued Gibson, Smith, and individual members of the KSU Board of Regents under 42 U.S.C. [sec.] 1983, alleging that the university's confiscation of and failure to distribute the 1992-94 KSU student yearbook violated their rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.(2) Kincaid and Coffer sought damages and injunctive relief. Both parties moved for summary judgment on the yearbook claim. The district court applied a forum analysis to the students' First Amendment claim, and found that the KSU yearbook was a nonpublic forum. See Perry Educ. Ass'n v. Perry Local Educators' Ass'n, 460 U.S. 37, 46, 103 S.Ct. 948, 74 L.Ed.2d 794 (1983). The district court reasoned that Kincaid and Coffer had "put forth no evidence that The Thorobred was intended to reach or communicate with anybody but KSU students," and held that "the yearbook was not intended to be a journal of expression and communication in a public forum sense, but instead was intended to be a journal of the 'goings on' in [a] particular year at KSU." Having found that the yearbook was not a public forum, the court held that the university officials' refusal to distribute the yearbook "on the grounds that the yearbook was not of proper quality and did not represent the school a[s] it should," was reasonable. Accordingly, the court granted the KSU officials' motion for summary judgment and denied the students' motion. Both in finding that the KSU yearbook was a nonpublic forum and in finding that the KSU officials' actions were reasonable, the district court relied in part upon Hazelwood Sch. Dist. v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260, 108 S.Ct. 562, 98 L.Ed.2d 592 (1988).(3) A divided panel of this court affirmed the district court's opinion. See Kincaid v. Gibson, 191 F.3d 719. We granted en banc review to determine whether the panel and the district court erred in applying Hazelwood--a case that deals exclusively with the First Amendment rights of students in a high school setting(4)--to the university setting, and to examine whether the district court erred in finding that the student-plaintiffs failed as a matter of law to submit sufficient evidence to prove that the KSU yearbook is a limited public forum rather than a nonpublic forum.(5) For the reasons that follow, we hold that the KSU yearbook is a limited public forum, and that Kincaid and Coffer have presented sufficient evidence that the university officials violated their First Amendment rights to prevail as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).II. STANDARD OF REVIEW > We review the district court's grant of summary judgment de novo. See Greer v. United States, 207 F.3d 322, 326 (6th Cir.2000). Summary judgment is appropriate when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). There is no dispute regarding the material facts of this case; indeed, each party insists that the facts as presented to the district court require summary judgment in his or her favor. We recognize that "[t]he fact that both parties make motions for summary judgment, and each contends in support of his respective motion that no genuine issue of fact exists, does not require the Court to rule that no fact issue exists." Begnaud v. White, 170 F.2d 323, 327 (6th Cir.1948); accord Greer, 207 F.3d at 326. Nonetheless, "'cross motions for summary judgment do authorize the court to assume that there is no evidence which needs to be considered other than that which has been filed by the parties.'" Greer, 207 F.3d at 326 (citing Harrison Western Corp. v. Gulf Oil Co., 662 F.2d 690, 692 (10th Cir.1981). There is a substantial amount of testimony and documentary evidence in the record before us. Thus, we agree with the parties that the facts as developed in this case are sufficient to decide the case in accordance with clearly established First Amendment law, and we find no material facts in dispute that prevent the district court from granting summary judgment in favor of Kincaid and Coffer.III. DISCUSSION The issue before us is whether the university officials violated the First Amendment rights of Kincaid and Coffer by confiscating and failing to distribute the KSU student yearbook. For the reasons that follow, we apply a forum analysis to the question and hold that the KSU yearbook constitutes a limited (or "designated") public forum. Accordingly, we analyze the actions taken by the university officials with respect to the yearbook under strict scrutiny, and conclude that the officials' confiscation of the yearbooks violated Kincaid's and Coffer's First Amendment rights.A. Application of Public Forum Doctrine We begin with the fundamental principle that there can be "no doubt that the First Amendment rights of speech and association extend to the campuses of state universities." Widmar v. Vincent, 454 U.S. 263, 268-69, 102 S.Ct. 269, 70 L.Ed.2d 440 (1981). KSU is a state-funded, public university. See Ky.Rev.Stat. Ann. [sec.] 164.290(2). As such, the actions KSU officials take in their official capacities constitute state actions for purposes of First Amendment analysis. Further, the funds and materials that KSU allocates toward production of The Thorobred constitute state property. See United Food & Commerical Workers Union (UFCWU), Local 1099 v. Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Auth., 163 F.3d 341, 349 (6th Cir.1998). By confiscating the yearbooks at issue in this case, the KSU officials have restricted access to state property used for expressive purposes. "The Supreme Court has adopted a forum analysis for use in determining whether a state-imposed restriction on access to public property is constitutionally permissible." Id. Accordingly, we find that forum analysis is appropriate in this case. Although Kincaid and Coffer argue their case under the forum doctrine, they argue in the alternative that forum analysis does not apply to the KSU yearbooks because "forum analysis is only appropriate when the issue concerns the access sought by the proposed speaker," and that access is not at issue in this case. Appellants' Supp. Br. at 11-12. We disagree. It is true that "a speaker must seek access to public property or to private property dedicated to public use to evoke First Amendment concerns." See Cornelius v. NAACP Legal Defense and Educ. Fund, Inc., 473 U.S. 788, 801, 105 S.Ct. 3439, 87 L.Ed.2d 567 (1985). Although neither Kincaid nor Coffer seeks to add words or photographs to the yearbook at this point, university officials have cut off KSU students' access to read and possess it. Further, the Supreme Court has often applied a forum analysis to expressive activity within educational settings. See, e.g., Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of Univ. of Virginia, 515 U.S. 819, 115 S.Ct. 2510, 132 L.Ed.2d 700 (1995) (applying forum analysis to university student activities fund); Perry, 460 U.S. 37, 103 S.Ct. 948, 74 L.Ed.2d 794 (applying forum analysis to school district's internal mail system); Hazelwood, 484 U.S. 260, 108 S.Ct. 562, 98 L.Ed.2d 592 (applying forum analysis to high school newspaper); Widmar, 454 U.S. 263, 102 S.Ct. 269, 70 L.Ed.2d 440 (applying forum analysis to university meeting fora). Thus, we find that forum analysis is the appropriate framework under which to proceed in this case.(6)B. Type of Forum There is no real dispute in this case that the forum in question is The Thorobred itself. The parties dispute strenuously, however, the appropriate characterization of The Thorobred under forum analysis. Kincaid and Coffer contend that the yearbook is a limited public forum, subject only to reasonable time, place, and manner regulations, and to only those content-based regulations that are narrowly crafted to serve a compelling state interest. See Perry, 460 U.S. at 46, 103 S.Ct. 948. The KSU officials respond that the yearbook is a nonpublic forum, subject to all reasonable regulations that preserve the yearbook's purpose. See id. The Supreme Court has recognized three types of fora. The first type is a traditional public forum. A traditional public forum is a place "which by long tradition or by government fiat ha[s] been devoted to assembly and debate," such as a street or park. See id. at 45, 103 S.Ct. 948. In traditional public fora, "the rights of the state to limit expressive activity are sharply circumscribed": the government may enforce content-based restrictions only if they are narrowly drawn to serve a compelling interest, and may enforce content-neutral time, place, and manner regulations only if they are "narrowly tailored to serve a significant government interest, and leave open ample alternative channels of communication." Id. The second type of forum has been alternatively described as a "limited public forum," see Rosenberger, 515 U.S. at 829, 115 S.Ct. 2510, and as a "designated public forum," see Arkansas Educ. Television Comm'n v. Forbes, 523 U.S. 666, 679, 118 S.Ct. 1633, 140 L.Ed.2d 875 (1998). The government may open a limited public forum "for use by the public at large for assembly and speech, for use by certain speakers, or for the discussion of certain subjects." Cornelius, 473 U.S. at 802, 105 S.Ct. 3439. Although the government need not retain the open nature of a limited public forum, "as long as it does so it is bound by the same standards as apply in a traditional public forum." Perry, 460 U.S. at 46, 103 S.Ct. 948. The third and final type of forum is a nonpublic forum. The government may control access to a nonpublic forum "based on subject matter and speaker identity so long as the distinctions drawn are reasonable in light of the purpose served by the forum and are viewpoint neutral." Cornelius, 473 U.S. at 806, 105 S.Ct. 3439; see also Perry, 460 U.S. at 46, 103 S.Ct. 948. The parties agree that The Thorobred is not a traditional public forum. To determine whether the yearbook is a limited public forum, the touchstone of our analysis is whether the government intended to open the forum at issue. See Cornelius, 473 U.S. at 802, 105 S.Ct. 3439; accord Forbes, 523 U.S. at 677, 118 S.Ct. 1633; Hazelwood, 484 U.S. at 267, 108 S.Ct. 562. To determine whether the government intended to create a limited public forum, we look to the government's policy and practice with respect to the forum, as well as to the nature of the property at issue and its "compatibility with expressive activity." Cornelius, 473 U.S. at 802, 105 S.Ct. 3439. Further, the context within which the forum is found is relevant to determining whether the government has created a limited public forum. See, e.g., Forbes, 523 U.S. at 672-73, 118 S.Ct. 1633 (stating that "the public forum doctrine should not be extended in a mechanical way to the very different context of public television broadcasting."); Cornelius, 473 U.S. at 802, 105 S.Ct. 3439 (stating that Court will not "ignore the special nature and function of the federal workplace in evaluating the limits that may be imposed on an organization's right to participate" in fundraising forum). Evaluating these factors--KSU's policy and practice, the nature of The Thorobred and its compatibility with expressive activity, and the context in which the yearbook is found--we find clear evidence of KSU's intent to make the yearbook a limited public forum.1. Policy KSU's written policy toward The Thorobred is found in a section of the student handbook entitled "Student Publications."(7) In addition to stating KSU's policy toward the yearbook, the handbook describes the university's structure for oversight of the publication. The yearbook (along with the student newspaper) is "under the management of the Student Publications Board." The Student Publications Board ("SPB"), in turn, is composed of students, faculty members, and university officials.(8) Both the university's written policy and the structure it created to oversee the yearbook evidence KSU's intention that the yearbook serve as a limited public forum. First and foremost, the policy places editorial control of the yearbook in the hands of a student editor or editors. Although the policy provides for the establishment of minimum qualifications for student editors,(9) once a student is appointed editor, editorial control of the yearbook's content belongs to her. This is made clear by the policy's description of the Student Publications Advisor, a university employee. The policy directs that the SPB "shall require the use of an experienced advisor," but limits the advisor's role to "assur[ing] that the . . . yearbook is not overwhelmed by ineptitude and inexperience." Indeed, the policy expressly limits the types of changes that the advisor may make to the yearbook:In order to meet the responsible standards of journalism, an advisor may require changes in the form of materials submitted by students, but such changes must deal only with the form or the time and manner of expressions rather than alteration of content. See App. I (emphasis added). This language is revealing: not only does it direct the university's chosen advisor to refrain from editing the content of the yearbook, it also tracks the Supreme Court's description of the limitations on government regulation of expressive activity in a limited public forum. See Perry, 460 U.S. at 46, 103 S.Ct. 948 ("Reasonable time, place and manner regulations are permissible, and a content-based prohibition must be narrowly-drawn to effectuate a compelling state interest."). KSU's intent to limit its own oversight to time, place, and manner aspects of the yearbook is also seen in the policy's treatment of the SPB. The policy declares that one of the duties of the SBP is to "[a]pprove the written publications policy of each student publication, including such items as purpose, size, quantity controls, and time, place and manner of distribution."(10) This language reiterates the university's intent to limit its oversight of the yearbook to general and administrative matters, and to cede authority over the yearbook's content to the students who published it. Finally, the publications policy opens with language that indicates that the expressive activity contained in student publications is to be largely unrestrained: "The Board of Regents respects the integrity of student publications and the press, and the rights to exist in an atmosphere of free and responsible discussion and of intellectual exploration." Such self-imposed restraint is strong evidence of KSU's intent to create a limited public forum, rather than to reserve to itself the right to edit or determine The Thorobred's content. The KSU officials argue that the handbook policy shows the university's intent to retain, rather than relinquish, control over the yearbook's content. They point in particular to the fact that the policy requires a disclaimer to be placed on the student newspaper--but not on the yearbook--as evidence of the university's intent to retain control over the content of the yearbook.(11) Such reasoning relies upon a negative inference: in other words, the fact that the policy fails to require a disclaimer to be placed upon the yearbook purportedly implies that the yearbook is "an 'official' organ of the University," because the university requires a disclaimer on the newspaper, and the newspaper is not such an official organ. This is hardly persuasive. Were we to follow the logic behind this conclusion, we must also conclude that the university has forgone all standards of quality control with relation to the yearbook. After all, the publications policy states minimum standards of quality control for the newspaper, but none for the yearbook.(12) Yet to concede that would require the university officials to concede their entire argument--Gibson argues on appeal that the basis for confiscating the yearbooks is their allegedly "poor quality." Rather than engage in such inferential gymnastics, we read the university's policy in a straightforward manner. For the reasons discussed, supra, KSU's policy leaves room for only one conclusion: that the university intended to open the yearbook as a limited public forum.2. Practice In addition to examining KSU's stated policy, we must examine the university's actual practice to determine whether it truly intended to create a limited public forum in The Thorobred. Indeed, we have noted that "'actual practice speaks louder than words'" in determining whether the government intended to create a limited public forum. See UFCWU, 163 F.3d at 353 (quoting Grace Bible Fellowship, Inc. v. Maine School Admin. Dist. No. 5, 941 F.2d 45, 47 (1st Cir.1991)). The record before us contains substantial evidence from varied sources that the SPB followed its stated "hands off" policy in actual practice. Coffer testified without contradiction that Vice President Gibson--who Coffer described as a "friend[ ]" with whom she was "on excellent terms"--"never expressed any concern about what the content might be in the yearbook" prior to its publication, but rather limited her concerns to the yearbook's release date. Nor did the SPB exercise oversight of the yearbook's content. Laura Jo Cullen, the university's publications advisor to the yearbook and an ex officio member of the SPB, testified that the SPB limited its oversight of the yearbook to issues such as advertising rates and selection of editors, and that in the time during which she had been associated with the yearbook,(13) the Board had never attempted to control the content of the yearbook. Leslie Thomas, KSU's Director of Student Life and another member of the SPB, testified that the SPB exercised minimal oversight of the yearbook in actual practice: "We just always dealt with the newspaper so I guess that was the major focus." Thomas also testified that it was the student editor rather than the SPB who determined the content of the yearbook. Thus, the record before us is clear that, in actual practice, student editors--not KSU officials, not the student publications advisor, and not the SPB--determined the content of KSU's student yearbook.3. Nature of the Property and Compatibility with Expressive Activity In addition to the university's policy and practice, an examination of the nature of the forum at issue and its compatibility with expressive activity further indicates that KSU intended to open The Thorobred to the student editors as a limited public forum. The KSU yearbook is a student publication that, by its very nature, exists for the purpose of expressive activity. There can be no serious argument about the fact that, in its most basic form, the yearbook serves as a forum in which student editors present pictures, captions, and other written material, and that these materials constitute expression for purposes of the First Amendment. As a creative publication, the yearbook is easily distinguished from other government fora whose natures are not so compatible with free expression. See, e.g., Cornelius, 473 U.S. at 805, 105 S.Ct. 3439 (finding that nature of government property at issue indicates that fundraising forum in federal workplace is nonpublic forum); Jones v. North Carolina Prisoners' Labor Union, Inc., 433 U.S. 119, 134, 97 S.Ct. 2532, 53 L.Ed.2d 629 (1977) (finding that prison is a nonpublic forum); Greer v. Spock, 424 U.S. 828, 838, 96 S.Ct. 1211, 47 L.Ed.2d 505 (1976) (holding that military installation is not a public forum). Nor is The Thorobred a closely-monitored classroom activity in which an instructor assigns student editors a grade, or in which a university official edits content. See Hazelwood, 484 U.S. at 268-69, 108 S.Ct. 562. The student handbook itself describes the yearbook as a "student publication" that should "exist in an atmosphere of free and responsible discussion and of intellectual exploration."(14) It is difficult to conceive of a forum whose nature is more compatible with expression.4. Context We are also persuaded that the context within which this case arises indicates that The Thorobred constitutes a limited public forum. The university is a special place for purposes of First Amendment jurisprudence. The danger of "chilling . . . individual thought and expression . . . is especially real in the University setting, where the State acts against a background and tradition of thought and experiment that is at the center of our intellectual and philosophic tradition." Rosenberger, 515 U.S. at 835-36, 115 S.Ct. 2510 (citing cases); see also Widmar, 454 U.S. at 267 n. 5, 102 S.Ct. 269 ("This Court has recognized that the campus of a public university, at least for its students, possesses many of the characteristics of a public forum."). The university environment is the quintessential "marketplace of ideas," which merits full, or indeed heightened, First Amendment protection. See Healy v. James, 408 U.S. 169, 180, 92 S.Ct. 2338, 33 L.Ed.2d 266 (1972) (stating that the "vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms is nowhere more vital than in the community of American schools" (quotation marks and citation omitted)). In addition to the nature of the university setting, we find it relevant that the editors of The Thorobred and its readers are likely to be young adults--Kincaid himself was thirty-seven at the time of his March 1997 deposition. Thus, there can be no justification for suppressing the yearbook on the grounds that it might be "unsuitable for immature audiences." Compare Hazelwood, 484U.S. at 271, 108 S.Ct. 562 (footnote omitted), with Widmar, 454 U.S. at 274 n. 14, 102 S.Ct. 269 ("University students are, of course, young adults. They are less impressionable than younger students . . . ."). Accordingly, we find that the fact that the forum at issue arises in the university context mitigates in favor of finding that the yearbook is a limited public forum.5. KSU Officials' Arguments The KSU officials dispute this substantial evidence of the university's intent to create a limited public forum in the student yearbook. They argue that a limited public forum cannot exist unless the government has opened the forum at issue for "indiscriminate use by the general public." The district court agreed, concluding that the yearbook was a nonpublic forum by reasoning that Kincaid and Coffer had "put forth no evidence that The Thorobred was intended to reach or communicate with anybody but KSU students." This reasoning badly distorts a basic tenet of public forum law. It is true that one of the ways in which the government may create or designate a public forum is by opening the forum "for indiscriminate use by the general public." See Perry, 460 U.S. at 47, 103 S.Ct. 948. But the government may create a limited public forum in other ways as well: "a public forum may be created by government designation of a place or channel of communication for use by the public at large for assembly and speech, for use by certain speakers, or for the discussion of certain subjects." Cornelius, 473 U.S. at 802, 105 S.Ct. 3439 (emphasis added); see also Hazelwood, 484 U.S. at 267, 108 S.Ct. 562 ("[High] school facilities may be deemed to be public forums only if school authorities have 'by policy or by practice' opened the facilities 'for indiscriminate use by the general public,' or by some segment of the public, such as student organizations." (citations omitted and emphasis added)). Thus, the proposition put forth by the university officials and relied upon by the district court--i.e., that the government must open a forum for indiscriminate use by the general public in order to create a designated public forum--is erroneous. The KSU officials further argue that only select individuals had access to The Thorobred, and that "[a] designated public forum is not created when the government allows selective access for individual speakers rather than general access for a class of speakers." See Forbes, 523 U.S. at 679, 118 S.Ct. 1633. In an attempt to bring The Thorobred under this rule, the officials point out that KSU limited access to the yearbook to the yearbook staff, which, in this case, was comprised of only Coffer. The officials note additionally that KSU's student handbook imposes certain minimum requirements--such as a minimum grade point average or successful completion of a journalism course--upon members of the yearbook's board of editors, and that there is no evidence that the student body as a whole may contribute to the yearbook. The KSU officials again misinterpret First Amendment forum law. There is a "distinction between 'general access,' which indicates that the property is a designated public forum, and 'selective access,' which indicates that the property is a nonpublic forum." Forbes, 523 U.S. at 679, 118 S.Ct. 1633 (citations omitted). General access is defined as the situation in which the government "makes its property generally available to a certain class of speakers." Id. (emphasis added). Selective access occurs when the government "does no more than reserve eligibility for access to the forum to a particular class of speakers, whose members must then, as individuals, 'obtain permission' to use it." Id. (emphasis added and citation omitted). In the instant case, KSU's policy and practice indicate that the university intended to designate the yearbook as a public forum for those students who became editors of the yearbook--in other words, the student editors composed the "class of speakers" for which the university designated the yearbook as a limited public forum. These editors were under no obligation to "obtain permission" each time they sought to access the yearbook--indeed, the policy and practice of the university was to give the student editors exclusive control over the content of The Thorobred. Thus, the student editors had "general access" to the yearbook. See Forbes, 523 U.S. at 679, 118 S.Ct. 1633. This is consistent with our finding that the yearbook constitutes a limited public forum for that particular class.(15) In sum, our review of KSU's policy and practice with regard to The Thorobred, the nature of the yearbook and its compatibility with expressive activity, and the university context in which the yearbook is created and distributed, all provide strong evidence of the university's intent to designate the yearbook as a limited public forum. Accordingly, we must determine whether the university officials' actions with respect to the yearbook were constitutional.C. Constitutionality of University Officials' Actions As discussed, supra, the government may impose only reasonable time, place, and manner regulations, and content-based regulations that are narrowly drawn to effectuate a compelling state interest, on expressive activity in a limited public forum. See Perry, 460 U.S. at 46, 103 S.Ct. 948. In addition, as with all manner of fora, the government may not suppress expression on the basis that state officials oppose a speaker's view. See id. For the following reasons, we hold that the actions taken by the KSU officials ran afoul of these restrictions on government action. Upon their return from the printer, the 1992-94 yearbooks were delivered to the office of Laura Cullen, the student publications advisor. Before they could be distributed to Kincaid and other KSU students, Gibson ordered Leslie Thomas to have them secured; Thomas complied, and, without any notification or explanation to Cullen, the yearbooks were spirited away. To this day--nearly six years after the yearbooks returned from the printer--the university refuses to distribute them. This is not a reasonable time, place, or manner regulation of expressive activity. See Perry, 460 U.S. at 46, 103 S.Ct. 948; see also Papish v. Board of Curators of the Univ. of Missouri, 410 U.S. 667, 670, 93 S.Ct. 1197, 35 L.Ed.2d 618 (1973) (holding that university's expulsion of graduate student for distributing on campus a newspaper containing indecent speech violated First Amendment because she "was expelled because of the disapproved content of the newspaper rather than the time, place, or manner of its distribution." (italics in original; footnote omitted). Nor is it a narrowly crafted regulation designed to preserve a compelling state interest. See Perry, 460 U.S. at 46, 103 S.Ct. 948. Rather, wholesale confiscation of printed materials which the state feels reflect poorly on its institutions is as broadly sweeping a regulation as the state might muster. Further, the university officials' action leaves open no alternative grounds for similar expressive activity. See id. at 45, 103 S.Ct. 948. The record contains no other student forum for recording words and pictures to reflect the experience of KSU students during the 1992 through 1994 school years. Indeed, the likelihood of the existence of any such alternative forum at this late date, when virtually all of the students who were at KSU in the early 1990s will have surely moved on, is extraordinarily slim. Accordingly, the KSU officials' confiscation of the yearbooks violates the First Amendment, and the university has no constitutionally valid reason to withhold distribution of the 1992-94 Thorobred from KSU students from that era. The KSU officials argue that withholding the yearbooks is excusable because they were regulating the style and form of the yearbooks rather than their content. At oral argument, counsel for the officials argued that the record contains no evidence that the officials withheld distribution of the yearbooks based on content, or that they altered the content of the yearbooks. This argument is simply not credible. First, the record makes clear that Gibson sought to regulate the content of the 1992-94 yearbook: in addition to complaining about the yearbook's color, lack of captions, and overall quality, Gibson withheld the yearbooks because she found the yearbook theme of "destination unknown" inappropriate. Gibson also disapproved of the inclusion of pictures of current events, and testified that "[t]here were a lot of pictures in the back of the book that . . . to me, looked like a Life magazine." Gibson further stated that the inclusion of pictures of current events "was not exactly what I thought it should have been, and it wasn't what other people who viewed it thought it should have been." And after the yearbooks came back from the printer, Gibson complained to Cullen that "[s]everal persons have received the book, and are thoroughly disappointed at the quality and content." Thus, it is quite clear that Gibson attempted to regulate the content of The Thorobred once it was printed. The officials' argument also fails because they have, in effect, altered The Thorobred. Confiscation ranks with forced government speech as amongst the purest forms of content alteration. There is little if any difference between hiding from public view the words and pictures students use to portray their college experience, and forcing students to publish a state-sponsored script. In either case, the government alters student expression by obliterating it. We will not sanction a reading of the First Amendment that permits government officials to censor expression in a limited public forum in order to coerce speech that pleases the government. The KSU officials present no compelling reason to nullify Coffer's expression or to shield it from Kincaid's view and, accordingly, the officials' actions violate the Constitution. See Perry, 460 U.S. at 46, 103 S.Ct. 948. Even were we to assume, as the KSU officials argue, that the yearbook was a nonpublic forum, confiscation of the yearbook would still violate Kincaid's and Coffer's free speech rights. Although the government may act to preserve a nonpublic forum for its intended purposes, its regulation of speech must nonetheless be reasonable, and it must not attempt to suppress expression based on the speaker's viewpoint. See Perry, 460 U.S. at 46, 103 S.Ct. 948. The actions taken by the KSU officials fail under even this relaxed standard. In arguing that their confiscation of the yearbook was reasonable to preserve the forum's purpose, see id., the officials adopt a portion of Coffer's testimony as a statement of the yearbook's purpose: "It's something that the university provides as a record for that year, a pictorial record for that year."(16) The officials then argue that because the yearbook was only 128 pages--about half its intended length--and contained pictures that lacked captions, it failed to fulfill its purpose. Because the yearbook failed to fulfill its intended purpose, the argument goes, the university's confiscation of the yearbooks was reasonable. The university officials acknowledge, however, that Coffer explained elsewhere in her testimony that the yearbook was intended to be "a collection of pictures that depicted what went on at Kentucky State University, around the community that Kentucky State University set in, the state and the world." There is no dispute that the yearbook included pictures of a wide range of individuals and events. Indeed, one of Gibson's main gripes with the yearbook was that it included pictures of current events and celebrities, and "[n]umerous pictures of Ross Perot, Bill Clinton, the Pope, and lots of people."(17) Thus, the yearbook appears to have fulfilled the purpose expressed by its editor. More important, the KSU officials' actions were not reasonable because they were arbitrary and conflicted with the university's own stated policy. The university's publications policy states that "the Thorobred yearbook shall be under the management of the Student Publications Board." Yet Thomas testified that neither Gibson nor any other KSU administrators discussed with the SPB the drastic act of confiscating the yearbooks. Further, the university's policy gave to Cullen the power to "require changes in the form of materials submitted by students [that] . . . deal . . . with the form or the time and manner of expressions." Yet, the KSU officials never even consulted Cullen, the student publications advisor, before they seized the yearbooks. In fact, Coffer testified that Cullen had helped her come up with the yearbook's apparently contentious theme and pick out its allegedly scandalous cover. Finally, the university released the subsequent (i.e., 1994-95) yearbook, despite the fact that it was, in Gibson's own estimation, only "a tad better than the previous one," i.e., the yearbook at issue in this case.(18) These facts show without doubt that the university's confiscation of the yearbooks was anything but reasonable: rather, it was a rash, arbitrary act, wholly out of proportion to the situation it was allegedly intended to address. We note that KSU's suppression of the yearbook smacks of viewpoint discrimination as well. The university officials based their confiscation of the yearbook in part upon the particular theme chosen by Coffer, "destination unknown." Coffer characterized that theme, which she described in the yearbook itself, as "my opinion as a student regarding the . . . overall student population." Coffer's choice of theme is a classic illustration of what we mean when we refer to a speaker's "viewpoint." The university officials also based their confiscation of the yearbooks on the fact that the some of its pictures captured particular, well-known individuals whom they deemed to be out of place in a student yearbook. Kincaid summarized the basic premise of First Amendment viewpoint jurisprudence when he testified, "[a] picture that may be relevant to me may be something that would be garbage to you." We might add that in a traditional, limited, or nonpublic forum, state officials may not expunge even "garbage" if it represents a speaker's viewpoint. See Perry, 460 U.S. at 46, 103 S.Ct. 948. Finally, the yearbook contained written segments which Coffer described as stating her opinions on various matters. Because the government may not regulate even a nonpublic forum based upon the speaker's viewpoint, see id., and because an editor's choice of theme, selection of particular pictures, and expression of opinions are clear examples of the editor's viewpoint, the KSU officials' actions violated the First Amendment under a nonpublic forum analysis as well as a limited public forum analysis. See Rosenberger, 515 U.S. at 829, 115 S.Ct. 2510 ("The government must abstain from regulating speech when the specific motivating ideology or the opinion or perspective of the speaker is the rationale for the restriction.").IV. CONCLUSION The district court erred by granting summary judgment to the university officials and denying it to Kincaid and Coffer because the record clearly shows KSU's intent to designate The Thorobred as a limited public forum. Specifically, the district court erred in concluding that the yearbook was a nonpublic forum on the basis that Kincaid and Coffer "put forth no evidence that The Thorobred was intended to reach or communicate with anybody but KSU students." This reasoning simply misapplies well-established public forum law. The district court further erred in concluding that "the yearbook was not intended to be a journal of expression and communication in a public forum sense, but instead to be a journal of the 'goings on' in [a] particular year at KSU." Given KSU's stated policy and practice with regard to the yearbook, the nature of the yearbook and its compatibility with expressive activity, and the university context in which the yearbook is published, there can be no question that The Thorobred is a "journal of expression and communication in the public forum sense." The university's confiscation of this journal of expression was arbitrary and unreasonable. As such, it violated Kincaid's and Coffer's First Amendment rights. In light of the clearly established contours of the public forum doctrine and the substantially developed factual record in this case, the district court should have denied the KSU officials' motion for summary judgment and granted Kincaid's and Coffer's summary judgment motion. Accordingly, we REVERSE the judgment of the district court and REMAND the case with instructions to enter judgment in favor of Kincaid and Coffer, and to determine the relief to which they are entitled.* * * * * [Attachment (Appendix I) and concurring and dissenting opinions are omitted.] __________________1. Both Kincaid and Coffer assert that they, along with all other KSU students, paid a mandatory eighty-dollar student activity fee at the beginning of the 1993-94 school year which covered the costs of supplying each KSU student with a copy of The Thorobred. In her deposition, Gibson stated that the student activity fee did not fund the yearbook, but rather that the yearbook was funded by general revenue. This difference of opinion is not materially related to the dispute at hand. Because the parties agree that the yearbook was funded by the university, and because the university is a state-funded institution, Kincaid and Coffer have First Amendment rights under a forum analysis as detailed infra. 2. Kincaid and Coffer raised several other claims, which are not before us on appeal. See Kincaid v. Gibson, 191 F.3d 719, 724-25 (6th Cir.1999), vacated by 197 F.3d 828 (6th Cir.1999). 3. In Hazelwood, the Court held that a newspaper published by a public high school journalism class was a nonpublic forum, 484 U.S. at 270, 108 S.Ct. 562, and that school officials' regulation of the content of the paper was reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns, id. at 273, 108 S.Ct. 562. 4. See Hazelwood, 484 U.S. at 273 n. 7, 108 S.Ct. 562 ("We need not now decide whether the same degree of deference is appropriate with respect to school-sponsored expressive activities at the college and university level."); see also Board of Regents of the Univ. of Wisconsin Sys. v. Southworth, 529 U.S. 217, 120 S.Ct. 1346, 1359 n. 4, 146 L.Ed.2d 193 (2000) (Souter, J., concurring in the judgment) ("[our] cases dealing with the right of teaching institutions to limit expressive freedom of students have been confined to high schools, whose students and their school's relation to them are different and at least arguably distinguishable from their counterparts in college education." (citations omitted)). 5. The parties essentially agree that Hazelwood applies only marginally to this case. Kincaid and Coffer argue that Hazelwood is factually inapposite to the case at hand; the KSU officials argue that the district court relied upon Hazelwood only for guidance in applying forum analysis to student publications. Because we find that a forum analysis requires that the yearbook be analyzed as a limited public forum--rather than a nonpublic forum--we agree with the parties that Hazelwood has little application to this case. Cf. Student Government Ass'n v. Board of Trustees of the Univ. of Massachusetts, 868 F.2d 473, 480 n. 6 (1st Cir.1989) (stating that Hazelwood "is not applicable to college newspapers."). 6. Our decision to apply the forum doctrine to the student yearbook at issue in this case has no bearing on the question of whether and the extent to which a public university may alter the content of a student newspaper. See, e.g., Stanley v. Magrath, 719 F.2d 279 (8th Cir.1983) (finding violation of students' First Amendment rights to free expression where university cut student newspaper's funding at least in part on the basis that it disapproved of paper's content); Schiff v. Williams, 519 F.2d 257, 260 (5th Cir.1975) (holding that "the right of free speech embodied in the publication of a college student newspaper cannot be controlled except under special circumstances"); Joyner v. Whiting, 477 F.2d 456, 460 (4th Cir.1973) (stating that "if a college has a student newspaper, its publication cannot be suppressed because college officials dislike its editorial comment"); Antonelli v. Hammond, 308 F.Supp. 1329 (D.Mass.1970) (holding that university requirement that all material to be published in student newspaper be previewed by university administrators violated students' rights to free expression). Likewise, we note that a college yearbook with features akin to a university student newspaper might be analyzed under a framework other than the forum framework. 7. The Student Publications policy, which is reproduced in its entirety at Appendix I of this opinion, also covers the Thorobred News, KSU's student newspaper. The newspaper is not at issue before the en banc panel. 8. The relevant portion of the Student Handbook states: The Student Publications Board membership shall consist of two members of the faculty, one of whom shall serve as chairperson; the editor of the Thorobred News, the editor of the Thorobred Yearbook, two student staff members (other than the editors of the yearbook and the newspaper), and the following exofficio [sic] members--Vice President for Student Affairs, Director of Student Life, President of Student Government Association, and the Student Publications Advisor. Except for those who are exofficio [sic], all members and the chairperson are appointed by the President of the University for a term of one (1) year. Appointments are made during the spring semester for the succeeding year. 9. The handbook states:The Student Publications Board shall . . . [s]et qualifications for and (upon nomination by the Student Publications Advisor), appoint the editor of each publication who shall serve for a one-year term, unless reappointed or removed by the Board for cause . . . . In setting qualifications for the editors of the newspaper and yearbook, the Board shall include a sufficiently high academic average or the successful completion of a basic journalism course, or both. 10. At the time of the events giving rise to the instant case, there was no publications policy written specifically for the yearbook. Although the parties included a draft of such a policy in the Joint Appendix, they agree that the draft has no relevance to this case because it was produced after the events at issue. 11. The relevant portion of the handbook reads:Since the Thorobred News is not an "official" organ of the University, the Student Publication[s] Board shall cause to be inserted in the masthead a standing and distinct disclaimer indicating that the views expressed are not necessarily those of the University, but rather are those of the named student author, editor or board of editors. (quotation marks in original). 12. The handbook states:In subsidizing the Thorobred News through the Student Publications Board, the University expects the newspaper to maintain at least these two standards of quality control: 1. Report accurately and fairly newsworthy campus events; and 2. Pursue important news events to make sure they are reported and commented upon on the editorial pages with comprehension and full understanding of the facts. 13. Cullen's tenure as publications advisor to the yearbook included the entire period at issue in this case (from January 1992 to November 1994). Cullen resigned from KSU in July 1995. See Cullen v. Gibson, No. 96-6116, 1997 WL 547932 (6th Cir. Sept.4,1997). 14. The handbook further states that although the yearbook is "subsidized by the University, it is the intent that [it] shall be free of censorship as prevailing law dictates." Although we acknowledge that this freedom from censorship begs the question of what, precisely, prevailing law dictates, we find it hard to fathom that KSU would have included such language in its student publications policy if it contemplated confiscating and withholding distribution of publications with which it disagreed. 15. We note that the class in this case turned out to include at most three students--Coffer and the two yearbook staff members who briefly assisted her--and perhaps includes as few as one (Coffer). The small number of students who ended up working on the yearbook has no bearing on our finding that the yearbook constitutes a limited public forum. Our focus is on whether the university intended to create a limited public forum in the yearbook. The particular events in this case--including the facts that a small number of students joined the yearbook staff and that two students left it--transpired long after the university expressed its intent to create a limited public forum for the student yearbook editors, whomever they might turn out to be. We further note that although Kincaid is not part of the class of student speakers who worked on the yearbook, the First Amendment protects his right to read The Thorobred once the university has opened it up as a forum for speech. See Virginia State Bd. of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Inc., 425 U.S. 748, 756, 96 S.Ct. 1817, 48 L.Ed.2d 346 (1975) ("[W]here a speaker exists . . . the protection afforded is to the communication, to its source and to its recipients both." (footnote omitted)). 16. Coffer immediately clarified her statement: "Well, the students provide [the yearbook] through the university." (emphasis added) 17. Coffer testified that she included pictures of current events and celebrities because "those were some of the major people and . . . major events that were happening during that time." 18. Cullen also indicated that the 1992-94 yearbook was not materially different in quality from other yearbooks: "the things that were said about the [1992-94] yearbook, this particular book that was confiscated, is [sic] nothing new or unique to any other yearbook. They all have problems."See the SPLC's Kincaid v. Gibson Information Page