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According to the website History.com – The First Amendment states the following: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” In the case of this question of a school district versus a school newspaper we only really care about the “press” part of the first amendment which is very similar to the speech clause of the first amendment in the way that the fact that the press has the freedom to express themselves through publication, that being said of course there are limits to the “freedom of the press” – which include false or defamatory statements and so on, which we learned in class are called libel.
For the First Amendment augment the school district of Har-Ber High School would have a little of a harder time using the first amendment to prove that they were right in doing what they did because they would need to prove libel against the newspaper which I’m exactly not sure if there is sufficient evidence to do so. For the most part, it seems like the consensus was that everyone was just upset about the story although it seems that everyone was also claiming the story to be “extremely divisive and disruptive” to the school, I don’t think the Newspaper had intentions to hurt the school.
The newspaper could more likely use this argument of the First Amendment because it pertains more closely to them than in the way that they express themselves through what they print. The way that I see it is the newspaper in the First Amendment has the advantage in this situation because they were unnecessary trying to cause libel rather than just bring an issue to the light so that people could see what’s going on it seems that the school district of Har-Ber High School just didn’t like the fact that they did it and claimed it was a disruption and unnecessary.
Near v. Minnesota
According to Oyer.org the case of Near v. Minnesota was a case that involves a small local Minneapolis newspaper by the name of “The Saturday Press”. Writers or people associated with the paper by named Jay Near and Howard Guilford accused the local officials of being implicated with local gangsters (which did not set well with them). After that the public officials then sought a permanent injunction against “The Saturday Press” on the grounds that it violated the Public Nuisance Law, because what the paper wrote was seen was malicious, scandalous, and defamatory. However, the law that they provided said that any person ‘engaged in the business’ of regularly publishing or circulating an ‘obscene, lewd, and lascivious’ or a ‘malicious, scandalous and defamatory’ newspaper or periodical was guilty of a nuisance and could be then enjoined from further committing or maintaining the nuisance. The state Supreme Court had upheld both the temporary injunction, and the permanent injunction that eventually issued from the trial court.
Using the above Near v. Minnesota case ruling of ruling and reasoning especially the Public Nuisance Law Part like in the case above had the newspaper of tHar-Ber High School had a previous history of publishing things that could be seen as Obscene, lewd, lascivious or even malicious, scandalous, and defamatory, The school district would 100% could use this ruling to help them suspend the newspaper and inhibit their ability to print further content.
In this particular case of Near v. Minnesota the decision is very hard to apply to this instance. In Near v. Minnesota, it seemed that ‘The Saturday Press’had violated the public nuisance law before, this meant that it had a history of printing material that interfered with the way society function every day – this material could’ve been done from stories they had written or could’ve even been lewd material. Where it gets tricky is we don’t necessarily know the history of what the Har-Ber High School newspaper and what they have published and if it would qualify as breaking the Public Nuisance Law, this case would help the Har-Ber High School.
According to the uscourts.gov website the case of Tinker v. Des Moines was a Supreme Court case that had to do with a public school in Des Moines, Iowa, in which the students had organized a silent protest against the Vietnam War. When doing this students planned to wear black armbands to school to protest the War but the principal had found out before and told the students they would be suspended if they wore the armbands. Despite the several warning, the students chose to go head and wear the armbands and were then suspended. During their suspension, the involved students’ parents had sued the school for violating their children’s right to free speech. A U.S. district court sided with the school, ruling that wearing armbands could indeed disrupt learning. The students appealed the ruling to a U.S. Court of Appeals but lost and took their case all the way to the United States Supreme Court – Where it had won.
In Tinker v. Des Moines, had the case not gone to the Supreme Court in the school district could use this same logic to say that the article that the Har-Ber High School newspaper had written was disruptive to learning since it caused quite a buzz around campus and the town. However, the final ruling of this case was at the Supreme Court level in which the school District of Des Moines had lost so it would not be in the best interest for the school district to us this case when trying to prove their point.
Tinker v. Des Moines is perhaps the one of the strongest argument that the newspaper of Har-Bar High School could use, I say this because much just like the armbands that were seen as disruptive when worn – the article could also be seen as disruptive, however I think a case could be made that the article was not actually disrupting the learning environment just like the armbands weren’t. The high court agreed that students’ free rights should be protected and then even said, ‘Students don’t shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gates.’ While these cases deal with two different types of issues they do have a lot of similarities that should looked at.
According to oyer.com “The Spectrum”, which was the school-sponsored newspaper of Hazelwood East High School, was written and edited by different students from campus. On May 1983, Robert E. Reynolds, the school principal, received the pages proofs for the May 13th issue and ended up not being pleased with some of them. Reynolds found two of the articles in the issue to be inappropriate to a degree, and ordered that the pages on which the articles appeared be withheld from publication. Cathy Kuhlmeier and two other former Hazelwood East students had brought the case to court.
The case of Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier would be a strong example of how the school district of Har-Bar could win, because in the result of this case the court found that schools must be able to set high standards for student speech which means that they can in fact monitor and revise what is printed for the school newspaper, especial if it does not aline with the values of the school. In doing this the school could still give the students some type of free-speech but it would need to be watched and monitored.
This case of Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier would not necessarily be a good case for the school newspaper to use it while arguing that they should have the right to publish the story about the football players, because this case set the precedent that schools can censor what a newspaper is saying especially if it does not aline with the schools values as well as the school could hold the newspaper to a higher standard of speech than those normal non-newspaper students.
This is a very important Act for students in Arkansas as it protects them and their free speech. That being said Section 3 and 4 are especially important and what I will mainly talking about during this argument. The sections as read as the following:
“Section 3. Student publications policies shall recognize that students may exercise their right of expression, within the framework outlined in Section 2 of this act. This right includes expression in school-sponsored publications, whether such publications are supported financially by the school or by use of school facilities, or are produced in conjunction with a class, except as provided in Section 4 of this act.
Section 4. Student publications policies shall recognize that truth, fairness, accuracy, and responsibility are essential to the practice of journalism, and that the following types of publications by students are not authorized:
This Act would be kind of useless for the school to use against the newspaper because the purpose of this act is to protect students that write for the newspapers and their free speech. However, after reading it, one section does state that each school board can set up its own regulations within this act so much as they’re not overbearing. So the only way that the school could use this against the newspaper would be if the Har-Bar newspaper had broke regulations set up by the school.
This Act would actually be a good piece of information to use when arguing against the school district because the purpose of this act is to protect student organizations such as the school newspaper and their free-speech. Where this could get tricky is the rules and regulations adopted by this school board in connection to all of this. Now what that means is that each school board can set the framework for this act and if the newspaper did not specifically violate this framework then there’s not a lot of school board can do just because the text for the article was disruptive, the way I read The Arkansas Student Publications Actis it’s almost like a contract between the school and a school newspaper, but mainly there to protect students.
In my opinion, based on everything that I have read via cases and different acts, laws, and rules especially the ones pertaining to Arkansas and similar cases and I think that the school newspaper should when able to continue to publish and run the stories that they choose over the Har-Bar school district. One big deciding factor that I looked at was the Tinker v. Des Moines, and I only say that because the armbands were seen as a distraction which many people within the school district and the people who oppose the news story say that the newspaper was a distraction however these cases are kind of similar and I think that the newspaper should be allowed to publish. If nothing else one could look at The Arkansas Student Publications Act and see that while the school sets the framework up the actual newspaper should still have a big say in what happens as this is their freedom of speech, The newspaper did not mean any kind of harm or defamation in publishing so I really would have to say that this article is fair game and my final ruling is in favor of the school newspaper.
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