The decision in Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier has made it
much easier for principals and other school officials to censor student
expression. In an effort to prevent this from happening, a number of
states and localities have passed student free speech legislation. These
laws limit the circumstances under which student publications can be
censored and thus extend to student journalists greater protection than
that which is afforded them under Hazelwood. States that have enacted these "anti-Hazelwood" laws
include: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland,
Massachusetts, and North Dakota. Other states have tried to pass
legislation but have failed. Some failed because they could not get a
majority in the legislature and in other cases because the executive
Some people wonder how states can pass laws that seem to challenge
decisions of the federal courts. Mike Hiestand, of the Student Press Law
Center, explains this apparent contradiction in the following words:
"Hazelwood was a First Amendment case.
Think of the First Amendment as establishing a "floor" of federal
protection from government censorship. No government official—federal,
state or local—may ever act in a way nor may lawmakers ever pass a law
or policy that provides individuals with less free speech protection
than that required by the First Amendment. That's why a public high
school principal can't institute a policy, for example, that allows her
to halt publication of any material she simply disagrees with. The First
Amendment—and specifically Hazelwood—requires more than that.
"Nothing, however, prevents lawmakers
from passing a law (or school board members from enacting a local
district policy) that requires school and government officials to
provide student journalists with more free speech protection. In other
words, Hazelwood and the First Amendment establish the ground floor of
censorship protection - but anyone - where they believe the First
Amendment provides insufficient protection against government censorship
- can raise the ceiling and establish a higher floor. And that is
precisely what state lawmakers and school board officials have done in
passing student free expression laws and policies." 
In other words, a state can pass a law or a school district can
implement a policy that expands students' First Amendment rights by
limiting the circumstances under which principals or school officials
can censor student publications. In essence, this would give students
the same free speech rights they had before the Hazelwood decision was
made. If, on the other hand, a state tried to pass a law which placed
further restrictions on students' free expression (i.e., greater
restrictions than those found in the Hazelwood case), it would be
 Mike Hiestand. Student Press Law Center. "Understanding 'Anti-Hazelwood' Laws." [Online] 7 August 2001.
Your state legislature has decided to consider the issue of adopting
its own"Anti-Hazelwood" law. They have invited the public to an open
forum to discuss this issue.
Your teacher will assign you to one of the following groups:
Brainstorm the pros and cons of anti-Hazelwood legislation with your group.
Determine if your group is for or against the legislation.
Work with your group to prepare comments to be delivered at the forum. Be sure to include the following in your comments:
Present your findings to the "state legislature" that will be
composed of students in the class. After hearing all of the arguments,
they will debate and vote on the issue of anti-Hazelwood legislation.
Now that you have explored this issue, you are ready to convince the
state legislature to adopt your personal viewpoint. You may do this by
appealing directly to the state legislature or by trying to convince
other citizens to adopt your viewpoint
- Create an outline. Identify your position and list arguments that support that viewpoint.
- Choose from the list below:
- Write a letter to your state legislature.
- Write a newspaper editorial.
- Create a political cartoon.
- Write a speech to be delivered to an audience. On a separate sheet
of paper, write a paragraph in which you describe the target audience
and the speech techniques used.
- Create a brochure or print advertisement. Your brochure should
contain visuals and text. On a separate sheet of paper, write a
paragraph in which you explain the message, the target audience, and the
propaganda techniques used.
- Create a storyboard for a television commercial. On a separate sheet
of paper, write a paragraph in which you explain the message, the
target audience, the propaganda techniques, and the video and audio
- Create your own product. Be sure to have your teacher approve this before you begin.
- Use the information from your outline to help you create the product
you have selected. In your product, clearly state and support your