What is Kuhlmeier?
‘Kuhlmeier’ refers to the family name of a high-school student named Cathy who filed a case against her school paper because of some concerns regarding freedom of speech. This case became a landmark case in the U.S. because it involved the questioning of the supposed right and freedom of speech and/or expression of Ms. Kuhlmeier as protected under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. This particular case was dubbed as the “Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier” case with Cathy Kuhlmeier as the main proponent against the Hazelwood School District.
The case basically stemmed from the school’s supposed deletion or editing of the school paper back in 1983. During this particular period, the school principal was typically in charge of editing the story proofs submitted by students that are part of the school paper’s editorial staff. Back on May 13, 1983 though, part of the proofs submitted to the principal contained sensitive subjects like pregnancy among teenage students and divorce stories from students in the Hazelwood School District. At the time, the school principal thought that the articles may not be suitable to some younger students, and it may cause problems for those involved in the stories. With these concerns, the principal decided to have the sensitive stories deleted from the school paper. And with this action, Ms. Kuhlmeier, along with other students, complained that the school violated their First Amendment rights.
This particular case became a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court back in 1988 that eventually sided with the Hazelwood School District instead of Ms. Kuhlmeier and other proponents of the case. This decision was basically based on the fact that school papers like the one in question are not created for the purpose of receiving comments from students to validate their own expression or understanding of various subjects. And so with this purpose in the paper’s establishment, it is then subject to a so-called lower protection level of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. The decision simply meant that the school had the right to censor the articles for the school paper for the simple reason that the paper was not created to serve a forum for student beliefs but rather to give information about school programs and activities.