The Board of Curators at the Missouri School of Journalism

410 U.S. 667 (1973)

Facts: The Board of Curators at the Missouri School of Journalism expelled a graduate student for dispensing an on campus newspaper containing offensive subject matter. Included in the issue was a republished political cartoon showing policemen raping the Statue of Liberty and the Goddess of Justice. Underneath was a caption that read "With Liberty and Justice for All." The paper also included an article called, "M ____f_____ Acquitted" which was about assault charges brought against a youngster from New York City involved in the organization, "Up Against the Wall M____f____." She was found guilty by the Student Conduct Committee regarding her choice of content and use of speech in the issue. The student opted for relief, professing that her expulsion from the university was unjustified because of her First Amendment rights concerning freedom of speech. She was denied by the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri. However, the Court of Appeals reversed the outcome and ruled in her favor.

Issue: Did the University of Missouri expel the graduate student under legitimate grounds?

Holding: No

Reasoning or Ratio Decidendi: The District Court based its ruling on the notion that the newspaper was thought to be obscene. The Court of Appeals argued that that issue was irrelevant, because the content of the paper was protected by the First Amendment. It concluded its argument by stating that the University was not forced to sell the publication on campus. There was no justification in the University's decision to expel the student regarding rules and conduct, which was seen as discriminatory. Therefore the decision was reversed, ordering the District Court to allow the student back into the University and re-establish any credits that were earned during the semester.
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