Judges Listen to Arguments in Kincaid v. Gibson

A three-judge panel heard arguments March 18 in the Kentucky State University yearbook and newspaper censorship case.

The case, Kincaid v. Gibson, stems from the removal of the newspaper adviser and the confiscation of approximately 2,000 copies of the student yearbook by Kentucky State University officials who were upset with grammatical errors, missing photo captions and the yearbook’s appearance. Copies of the yearbook remain locked away in a school storage room.

Courtroom observers were mixed in their reaction to the hearing. While many remained hopeful that the judges would reverse the decision of the district court, others were startled by at least one of the judges’ remarks.

For example, when the students’ attorney explained to the court that both the law and the school’s own policy book gave editorial control of the student newspaper and yearbook to the student editors, Judge James Ryan seemed skeptical.

“I can’t believe that book says the university was going to hand over the yearbook to a student editor…saying ‘This is your baby, do with it whatever you want,” Ryan said.

A decision in the case is expected to be handed down sometime this fall.