UPDATE: Justice Kennedy speaks about ‘prior review’ incident

On Nov. 11 I posted a blog post condemning Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has been a proponent of free speech and the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, for demanding prior review of a newspaper article written by student journalists at a high school he was speaking at.

Read my post here.

Now Kennedy has come forward to say it was a misunderstanding by a staff member who didn’t quite grasp his policy of no outside media being allowed to cover one of his school lectures while student media is more than welcome to report on the event.

The Wall Street Journal had the story.

In the story Kennedy did accept responsibility for the event because he is in charge of his own office.

That comment is absolutely correct, though it doesn’t negate the fact that it happened and harmed those student journalists by chilling the freedom of speech in their school and robbing them of an opportunity to properly cover a high-profile speaker.

He also discussed the double standard that is his policy to allow student reporters but no outside media to cover his lectures.

Though he said he does so to prevent student journalists from being embarrassed by asking sub-par questions and having said questions relayed to the masses by the outside media, it doesn’t seem fair.

First, if any media is allowed because it is an open event, then all media should be allowed in.

Second, though the students may not ask the best questions, they could learn a lot by hearing professionals ask questions. Again, Kennedy deprived the students a learning opportunity.

Since Kennedy reportedly told the student of his concern for “the health of American journalism,” I hope this doesn’t happen again and Kennedy becomes more active in preserving the sanctity of freedom of the press as afforded by the First Amendment.

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About toddvogts 830 Articles
Todd R. Vogts, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of media at Sterling College in Kansas. Previously, he taught yearbook, newspaper, newsmagazine, and online journalism in various Kansas high schools, and he ran a weekly newspaper in rural Kansas. He continues to freelance as a professional journalist from time to time. Also, Vogts is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the Journalism Education Association (JEA), and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), among others. He earned his Master Journalism Educator (MJE) certification from JEA in 2022. When he’s not teaching or writing, he runs his mobile disk jockey service and takes part in other entrepreneurial ventures. He can be reached at twitter.com/toddvogts or via his website at www.toddvogts.com.