Brad Dickens


Federal and circuit courts continue to fiercely debate whether the Supreme Court's 1988 ruling in Hazelwood v. Kuhineier requires school policies regulating student speech and expression to be viewpoint neutral. However, this note suggests that the language of Hazelwood itself shows that the Circuit debate may be misguided. The Supreme Court intended Hazelwood to stand as a narrow exception to its earlier holding in Tinker, and Hazelwood only applies in instances where the government's own voice is implicated, largely in a public context. When the school, and in effect the government, is speaking with its own voice, the school must be able to control the content and nature of such speech as a matter of practicality. Any requirement of viewpoint neutrality in this context is simply unnecessary and conflicts with the Court's own precedent relating to government speech. When schools are allowed to operate the way Hazelwood intended, they are able to effectively execute their educational mission, and students are able to appropriately exercise their First Amendment rights via Tinker without the overly cumbersome burden of viewpoint neutral speech policies.