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'I ? Boobies' dispute may clarify schools' ability to police 'lewd' speech

(12/17/10 9:09pm)

The future of students' ability to express themselves on the grounds of public schools is dangling from a $3.99 rubber bracelet. A federal court heard testimony Thursday in a First Amendment lawsuit brought by two Pennsylvania middle school students disciplined for refusing to remove breast-cancer awareness bracelets bearing what their administrators considered a "lewd" message: " I ? Boobies!

Schools' overreaching, and mounting evidence of its civic damage, means Hazelwood will soon be a ghost of Christmases past

(12/24/10 5:18pm)

If it is true that "coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous," then America's young people have been handed a Christmas blessing that, as with so many blessings, comes disguised as a lump of coal. It is difficult not to see divine providence in the confluence of Dec.

Thank God you graduated? In Montana, sure. In Colorado, no way. Are we all reading the same Constitution?

(12/29/10 6:15pm)

In a ruling that breaks with the prevailing approach of federal courts, Montana's highest court has limited the ability of public schools to dictate what students can say in addressing graduation ceremonies. The Montana Supreme Court's 6-1 ruling in Griffith v.

Getting censored can be its own "mark of excellence"

(05/14/11 1:51pm)

One of the most common -- and most insidious -- rationalizations for censoring student publications is "poor quality." It's the last refuge for the censor who is out of excuses, because frankly, it's always possible to find a blemish on even the finest journalistic work. The idea that a newspaper needs to be "edited" or "proofread" by the college president or public-relations director for purposes of "teaching good journalism" has never stood up to the straight-face test.

Fighting censorship: A life-changing decision, vindicated by history

(08/23/11 1:24pm)

This item jumped out from today's New Orleans newspaper, a remembrance of a journalist and civic leader whose trajectory was charted by a principled decision made as a college student editor. As the Times-Picayune describes, Carl Corbin was one of seven Louisiana State University journalism students, including three editors at The Reveille newspaper, who faced discipline for standing up to Gov.

Covering protests and demonstrations: Staying safe if your campus is next to be "occupied"

(10/06/11 8:45pm)

As the Occupy Wall Street movement gathers steam in both New York City and at satellite locations across the country and internationally, some of those covering the event for commercial media have been called out for watching from afar, failing (or refusing) to take the time to talk with the protesters and hear their message.

It's April Fools Day on Bizarro Planet -- school administrators turn First Amendment true-believers

(10/17/11 9:27am)

The dictionary defines "chutzpah" as "unmitigated effrontery or impudence; gall; audacity; nerve." Mr. Webster, meet the South Carolina Association of School Administrators. While school administrator groups across the country stubbornly resist (and often actively oppose) extending free-speech rights to the students and teachers under their supervision, their brethren in South Carolina yield to no one in their First Amendment zealotry. When it helps them keep secrets from the public. The Association has convinced a state-court judge to exempt it from complying with South Carolina's Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), on the grounds that opening its records to the public would compromise the organization's right to formulate its political positions privately.

Eleventh Circuit applies Hazelwood, turns aside Georgia college student's claim of religious viewpoint discrimination

(12/17/11 2:03pm)

A Georgia college did not violate the First Amendment in ordering a would-be school counselor to complete remedial training to learn how to set aside her personal disapproval of homosexuality when counseling gay and lesbian students, a federal appeals court has ruled. Jennifer Keeton failed to show that Augusta State University punished her for expressing religious views, or compelled her to espouse acceptance of homosexuality contrary to her beliefs, a three-judge panel of the Atlanta-based Eleventh Circuit U.S.

Students lose -- in a victory for a Michigan student. Court rewrites rules of free speech -- in a case that's not about free speech. If this makes sense, get help.

(02/01/12 11:19am)

A federal appeals court's ruling in favor of an Eastern Michigan University student who claims she was forced out of her chosen academic program, counseling, because of her faith-based opposition to homosexuality is being hailed in religious-freedom circles as a grand victory. And technically, a "victory" it was.

Appeals court: Former Valdosta State student's civil rights lawsuit will continue [Updated]

(02/07/12 10:02pm)

Updated 2/8 by Nick Glunt, SPLC staff writer. Original post by Frank LoMonte. A former Georgia college student who was expelled after he crusaded against the college president's parking-garage project can recover damages for violations of his constitutional rights, a federal appeals court decided Tuesday. The 11th U.S.

Indiana's HB 1169 goes to conference committee for more tinkering

(03/02/12 8:16pm)

The latest update in Indiana House Bill 1169’s journey through the legislature is starting to make neurosurgery look easy. Tory Flynn, an Indiana Republican caucus spokeswoman, said the House dissented Thursday to a recent Senate amendment. The bill will go to a conference committee made up of both Senators and House members to hash out the kinks. House Bill 1169 began as a bill to give school administrators authority to punish students for off-campus speech — whether lawful or unlawful.

Censorship FAIL: Refusal to publish atheism column puts school district's policies under the constitutional microscope

(03/22/12 7:54pm)

Unless you are one of the financial backers of "John Carter," it is hard to conceive of a more disastrous flop than the Lenoir City School District's efforts to suppress a teenager's column about religious indoctrination in schools. Had Krystal Myers' column, "No Rights, the Life of an Atheist," been allowed to run in the Lenoir City High School newspaper, its impact would have been limited to the Panther Press' tiny audience.