Illinois student free expression law (public colleges) (2008)

In addition to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, states can provide additional free speech protection to their own citizens by enacting state laws or regulations. The Illinois College Campus Press Act is such a provision and provides student journalists attending Illinois public colleges and universities with added protection against administrative censorship.

The law was passed in response to the 2005 ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Hosty v. Carter.By declaring all student media at public colleges “public forums,” the CCPA effectively nullifies the Hosty ruling for Illinois student media.

110 ILCS 13

Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the College Campus Press Act.

Section 5. Definitions. For purposes of this Act:

“Campus media” means any matter that is prepared, substantially written, published, or broadcast by students at State-sponsored institutions of higher learning, that is distributed or generally made available, either free of charge or for a fee, to members of the student body, and that is prepared under the direction of a student media adviser.

“Campus media” does not include media that is intended for distribution or transmission solely in the classrooms in which it is produced.

“Campus policy” means the views and positions of State-sponsored institutions of higher learning promulgated by administrators, officials, or other agents of these institutions.

“Collegiate media adviser” means a person who is employed, appointed, or designated by the State-sponsored institution of higher learning to supervise or provide instruction relating to campus media.

“Collegiate student editor” means a student at a State-sponsored institution of higher learning who edits information prepared by collegiate student journalists for dissemination in campus media.

“Collegiate student journalist” means a student at a State-sponsored institution of higher learning who gathers, compiles, writes, photographs, records, or prepares information for dissemination in campus media.

“Prevailing party” includes any party who obtains some of his or her requested relief through judicial judgment in his or her favor, who obtains some of his or her requested relief through a settlement agreement approved by the court, or whose pursuit of a non-frivolous claim was a catalyst for a unilateral change in position by the opposing party relative to the relief sought.

“State-sponsored institution of higher learning” means the University of Illinois, Southern Illinois University, Chicago State University, Eastern Illinois University, Governors State University, Illinois State University, Northeastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, Western Illinois University, and public community colleges subject to the Public Community College Act.

Section 10. Public forum. All campus media produced primarily by students at a State-sponsored institution of higher learning is a public forum for expression by the student

journalists and editors at the particular institution. Campus media, whether campus-sponsored or noncampus-sponsored, is not subject to prior review by public officials of a State-sponsored institution of higher learning.

Section 15. Grammar and journalism standards. Collegiate student editors of campus media are responsible for determining the news, opinions, feature content, and advertising content of campus media. This Section does not prevent a collegiate media adviser from teaching professional standards of grammar and journalism to collegiate student journalists. A collegiate

media adviser must not be terminated, transferred, removed, otherwise disciplined, or retaliated against for refusing to suppress protected free expression rights of collegiate student journalists and of collegiate student editors.

Section 20. Injunction and declaratory relief. A collegiate student enrolled in a State-sponsored institution of higher learning or a collegiate media advisor of a State-sponsored institution of higher learning may commence a civil action to obtain appropriate injunctive and declaratory

relief as determined by a court for violation of Section 10 of this Act by such State-sponsored institution of higher learning. Upon motion, a court may award attorney’s fees to a prevailing party in a civil action brought under this Section.

Section 25. Campus policy and speech distinguished. Expression made by a collegiate student journalist, collegiate student editor, or other contributor in campus media is neither an expression of campus policy nor speech attributable to a State-sponsored institution of higher learning.

Section 30. Discipline; unprotected speech. Nothing in this Act prohibits the imposition of discipline for harassment, threats, or intimidation, unless constitutionally protected, or for speech that is not constitutionally protected, including obscenity or incitement.

Section 35. Immunity. A State-sponsored institution of higher learning shall be immune from any lawsuit arising from expression actually made in campus media, with the exception of the institution’s own expression.

Section 97. Severability. The provisions of this Act are severable under Section 1.31 of the Statute on Statutes.