Washington Law Review


Janna J. Annest


In Hazelwood School District v. Kuhimeier, the U.S. Supreme Court held that public school administrators can restrict expression in school-sponsored forums in a manner reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns. Regulating First Amendment rights in any public forum usually requires that no point of view be suppressed in favor of its counterpoint, but the Hazelwood Court omitted the viewpoint-neutrality requirement from its holding. While the Sixth, Ninth and Eleventh Circuits continue to require viewpoint-neutral regulation of school-sponsored speech, the First and Third Circuits interpret Hazelwood as abrogating the viewpoint-neutrality requirement in school-sponsored forums. This Comment argues in favor of the interpretation advanced by the First and Third Circuits. First, the text of the Hazelwood opinions supports elimination of the viewpoint-neutrality requirement. Second, the tradition of judicial deference to local authorities in matters of school administration conflicts with a requirement of viewpoint-neutrality, and such a requirement would hinder the public school's ability to function as both an arm of state government and in loco parentis. Finally, abrogation of the viewpoint-neutrality requirement in public schools would avoid the doctrinal confusion associated with viewpoint and content-based restrictions.

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