DTH Publishing Corp. v. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

In April 1996, the editor of the Daily Tar Heel, the student newspaper of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was denied entrance to Undergraduate Court proceedings because they were claimed to be closed meetings. The proceedings were in regard to the alleged theft of 1500 copies of the Carolina Review, a UNC-CH student magazine, in February. The DTH claimed the right to access the proceedings under the First Amendment, but the Undergraduate Court claims the proceedings are closed under an exemption in North Carolina’s open meetings laws and the Family Educational and Privacy Rights Act.

In February 1998, the Supreme Court of North Carolina ruled that the First Amendment does not give the press the “presumptive right of access” to attend Undergraduate Court Proceedings. Historically, the court stated, UNC-CH student disciplinary proceedings were open to the press or the general public. The court also ruled with the belief that opening the proceedings could affect the Undergraduate Court’s functions, and that some information discussed could be protected under FERPA