Fanning the Flames: The Freedom Project Blog


Extra! Extra! Student Press Bill Passes in Oregon.

By Shawn Healy
HB-3279, state legislation to enhance student press rights at the high school and college levels, was passed this afternoon by the Oregon House of Representatives. They reconciled differences between the earlier bill passed by the body (5.16.2007 post) and the Senate version. The Governor is expected to sign the bill into law in the next few weeks, and when the ink dries, Oregon will the the seventh state to successfully pass similar legislation and the first since Arkansas in 1995.

Earlier efforts were in direct response to the Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1988) decision that enabled administrative censorship of school-sponsored vehicles that feature student speech (newspapers, musicals, graduation ceremonies, etc.). Hosty v. Carter (2005) applied this precedent to college students in the three-state region of Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. By refusing to hear this case on appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the 7th District Court of Appeals decision to stand, frightening free press advocates and practitioners on college campuses across America, and igniting legislative efforts in California and Illinois to strengthen collegiate press rights.

Washington State's failed efforts last spring would have protected press rights for high school and collegiate newspapers (3.13.2007 and 1.27.2007 posts, and its chief sponsor has vowed to renew this battle during the next legislative session.

J-Ideas Director Warren Watson celebrated today's triumph. The veteran journalist proclaimed, "This is an important day for all who care about the First Amendment and youth journalism. It's been more than a decade since we've had a public-policy victory such as this. Many states have failed in their attempts to legislate true First Amendment protection for youth journalists."

Watson's organization played a critical role in the bill's ultimate passage, applying lessons learned from the Oregon defeat. Mark Goodman, Executive Director of the Student Press Law Center, praised J-Ideas and touted the breakthrough: "After 12 years since Arkansas, it's great to (almost) have another law on the books!"


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Managing Director

McCormick Freedom Project

Shawn is responsible for overseeing and managing the operations associated with the McCormick Freedom Project. Additionally, he serves as the in house content expert and voice of museum through public speaking and original scholarship. Before joining the Freedom Project, he taught American Government, Economics, American History, and Chicago History at Community High School in West Chicago, IL and Sheboygan North High School in Wisconsin.

Shawn is a doctoral candidate within the Political Science Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he received his MA in Political Science. He is a 2001 James Madison Fellow from the State of Wisconsin and holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, History, and Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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About Fanning the Flames and the McCormick Freedom Project

Fanning the Flames is a blog of the McCormick Freedom Project, which was started in 2006 by museum managing director Shawn Healy. The blog highlights the news of the day, in hopes of engaging readers in dialogue about freedom issues. Any views or opinions expressed on this blog represent those of the writers alone and do not represent an official opinion of the McCormick Freedom Project.

Founded in 2005, the McCormick Freedom Project is part of the McCormick Foundation. The Freedom Project’s mission is to enable informed and engaged participation in our democracy by demonstrating the relevance of the First Amendment and the role it plays in the ongoing struggle to define and defend freedom. The museum offers programs and resources for teachers, students, and the general public.

First Amendment journalism initiative

The Freedom Project recently launched a new reporting initiative with professional journalists Tim McNulty and Jamie Loo. The goal is to expand and promote the benefits of lifelong civic engagement among citizens of all ages, through original reporting, commentary and news aggregation on First Amendment and freedom issues. Please visit the McCormick Freedom Project's news Web site, The Post-Exchange at