Illinois senate passes college press freedom bill

ILLINOIS — State senators unanimously approved a bill Thursday that would protect student newspapers at Illinois public universities and community colleges and negate the 2005 Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Hosty v. Carter.

The bill, known as the College Campus Press Act, passed the senate 57-0 and will within the next several weeks move to the Illinois House of Representatives, beginning with the House Higher Education Committee.

Illinois Rep. Kevin McCarthy (D-Orland Park), chairman of the House Higher Education Committee, said Tuesday that while he was not familiar with the finer details of the bill, he believes it probably will receive a “good reception” from the committee.

“I don’t think censorship has that many supporters from the General Assembly,” he said.

Illinois Sen. Susan Garrett (D-Lake Forest) introduced the bill in early February with assistance from the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. The legislation designates all public college and community college publications in the state as public forums for student expression, effectively voiding Hosty, which applies in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. According to that ruling, public college administrators could impose prior review and restraint on student newspapers if the publication is not a designated public forum for student expression.

By Brian Hudson, SPLC staff writer

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