10 Most Important U.S. Supreme Court Cases for Journalists


Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier (1988)

Are high school students protected by freedom of speech? When Hazelwood East High School principal Robert E. Reynolds thumbed through the proofs of the Spectrum, the school paper, and found two articles to be inappropriate, he barred them from publication. Cathy Kuhlmeier and two other students on the newspaper staff brought the case to court, saying the principal's actions violated their First Amendment rights.

In a 5-3 decision, the Court held that schools must be able to set high standards for speech disseminated under their supervision, and that schools had the right to refuse to support speech that was "inconsistent with the shared valued of civilized social order." The Court said the educators didn't offend the students' First Amendment rights, as long as their actions were "reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns."