The lower federal courts and state courts have been applying the first amendment in student press cases arising at public colleges and high schools since 1967. But ordinary first amendment analysis is inadequate in most student press disputes. As a result the courts in some cases have been unable to articulate satisfactorily the bases for good decisions. And in other cases the real issues generated in student press litigations have been ignored. This Article evaluates the cases so far decided, and proposes a new approach to student press disputes which would rationalize what the courts have intuitively done correctly in the past; and which also, if adopted, would provide a better framework for decision in the kind of cases in which present methods produce questionable results. Under the analysis proposed, the student press would be recognized as a form of "state speech" which enjoys constitutional protection, but which as a form of state action is also subject to special constitutionally mandated constraints. The reported cases fall into four categories: "sanction-censorship" cases, "access" cases, "mandatory fee" cases, and defamation cases. The decisions in each category are evaluated in the four sections that follow. The case for the "state speech" analysis is first developed and then applied in the "sanction-censorship" section and then applied also to the cases in the succeeding parts of the Article.
T. D. Buckley Jr., Student Publications, the First Amendment, and State Speech, 34 Clev. St. L. Rev. 267 (1985-1986)