Student Journalists Who File First Amendment Lawsuits Face Immediate Deadline

By: E&P Staff

Student journalists who file First Amendment lawsuits now face an immediate deadline, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

According to a unanimous ruling last week by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, students who file First Amendment suits after their
graduation may not have valid cases as alumni.

The potentially dangerous precedent comes from the decision by a three-judgepanel to reject an appeal by two recent graduates of Kansas State University.

The students argued that while editors of the Kansas State Collegian in
2004, the university had violated their First Amendment rights by removing the Collegian?s faculty adviser from the paper?s staff. The removal came after the newspaper received criticism for its coverage of minority issues.

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the judges ruled that ?the plaintiffs? status as graduates made their claims moot because, as alumni, they are not subject to censorship by the university.?

Mark Goodman, the executive director for the Student Press Law Center, told the Chronicle that, ?The court created a standard for mootness [sic] that makes it impossible for virtually any student to make a First Amendment claim because they will graduate before their case is concluded. It?s just plain wrong.?

As of now, the ruling is considered in every state covered by the 10th
Circuit. They are: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, and
Wyoming.

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