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Lessons in censorship

Even though the ban on Grambling State University’s newspaper, The Gramblinite, has been removed, residual effects and questio

Even though the ban on Grambling State University’s newspaper, The Gramblinite, has been removed, residual effects and questions of why the ban was imposed in the first place still linger.

The administration is pointing the finger at the students on The Gramblinite staff, claiming there were too many errors and several incidents of plagiarism.

However, many Grambling students believe its staff was chastised for speaking out against the disreputable acts of the administration.

Whether it was for quality’s sake or a personal vendetta, GSU’s decision to shut down The Gramblinite technically violated the First Amendment for free speech. Also, for those well versed in Supreme Court cases, names like Hazelwood and Hosty should instantly spring to mind. And for those who do not know the significance of these terms and have no idea what those people in the black robes have been doing for the past 20 years, allow us to explain.

The question of censorship involving high school newspapers reached the Supreme Court in 1988 during Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier. The Supreme Court decided public high school officials have the authority to censor most, but not all, student newspapers and other forms of expression on the high school level.

The most identical court case to The Gramblinite’s situation is 2005’s Hosty v. Carter, which involved Governors State University’s newspaper, The Innovator, being banned for criticizing the administration.

The Hosty case unfortunately allowed states in the Seventh Circuit (Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin) to implement Hazelwood’s decision on just the universities in their jurisdiction.

Everyone follow along and watch where this is going: The Gramblinite is published in Grambling. Grambling is a city in Louisiana. Louisiana lies in the Fifth Circuit of the United States, not the seventh.

Therefore, Robert Dixon, vice president of student affairs at Grambling and his crew legally had no right to shut down the newspaper for any amount of time, case closed.

This brief foray into Supreme Court cases past and present was not intended to be a history lecture, but to reinforce the illegality of the actions of GSU’s administration and to point out the fact that The Gramblinite staff could have a case if ever they took it all the way  to those nine in the black robes.

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