Literature Study GuidesHazelwood V Kuhlmeier

Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier | Study Guide

U.S. Supreme Court

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U.S. Supreme Court

Year Decided



Primary Source


U.S. Supreme Court Case

At a Glance

  • On January 13, 1988, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, a case involving the free speech rights of high school students.
  • In a 5–3 vote the court ruled that a high school principal had the right to prevent publication of articles he found objectionable in a school-sponsored newspaper, based on the school's academic standards.
  • Students who worked on the paper claimed that the principal's action violated their First Amendment rights.
  • Writing for the majority, Justice Byron R. White (1917–2002) said that school officials can block student speech in a school-sponsored publication if they determine the speech violates the school's educational mission.
  • In a sharp dissent, Justice William J. Brennan Jr. (1906–97) wrote that the principal's action violated the students' First Amendment rights by censoring student speech. The majority, he said, abandoned the precedent set earlier by the court in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969).
  • The Student Press Law Center argued that school censorship increased after Hazelwood.
  • In 2005, a federal appeals court extended the Hazelwood decision to school-sponsored publications at public colleges and universities.


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