Hosty Q&A

In February, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would not hear an appeal in Hosty v. Carter, a case that questioned the authority of administrators at an Illinois university to censor a student newspaper that had published articles critical of the school. The Court’s refusal means that an earlier decision by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stands as law for some student journalists. The case changes the free press landscape for America’s college student media. But just how much? And what should be done? The SPLC answers some questions posed by college journalists.

Illegal speech

All 50 states have civil libel laws that allow victims of allegedly defamatory statements to seek compensation from speakers. Criminal libel laws are different in that they allow the state to fine or imprison speakers of defamatory statements. Seventeen states, including Colorado, currently have criminal defamation laws, according to a December 2005 update on criminal defamation statutes by the Media Law Resource Center.

Access granted

Lawmakers in Massachusetts and Georgia have pushed recently for greater access to campus crime information. A bill before the Massachusetts Legislature would make police departments at private schools in the state that have law enforcement authority subject to open records laws. A Senate vote on the Massachusetts bill has been postponed repeatedly.