Media & Communications Law

Dean sorry for censorship of college paper's coverage of Chief Justice Roberts


A misunderstanding over the difference between how the high court’s press office approaches news coverage as opposed to promotional materials is being blamed for a decision to censor a college newspaper’s coverage of Chief Justice John Roberts and his visit to Lewis & Clark Law School earlier this month.

Justice Roberts was on campus to preside over a moot court competition. The local media, including the Oregonian, covered the event. But when the school’s newspaper, the Pioneer Log, asked the law school about photographs, editors were told they needed to submit the article they’d planned for review by the court’s press office, the Washington Post reports.

By the time any confusion was cleared up, the newspaper had missed its press deadline.

The law school’s dean, Robert Klonoff, is now apologizing for his handling of the matter. And the Supreme Court’s public information officers, Kathleen Arberg, has made clear that while her office likes to review promotional materials about a justice’s visit, it does not review news articles.

“In hindsight, I should not have submitted the article for review by anyone, even the high court,” Klonoff wrote in an email statement to the Washington Post. “I have apologized to the students and learned a valuable lesson. I am committed to upholding the First Amendment, and I strongly value freedom of the press.”

The chief justice visited campus on April 4 and the Pioneer Log finally published its account online on April 12.

Also see:

Pioneer Log: “Four days of prior restraint: A call for journalism at Lewis & Clark”

Oregonian: “Chief Justice John Roberts’ visit to Lewis & Clark College sparks a press freedom controversy”

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