By Zibby Pillote & Anthony Ruiz /// Editor-In-Chief, Sports Editor
Portland’s only law school might have a reputation for animal law, but when it comes to the First Amendment, it seems they could use some brushing up.
On April 5, Chief Justice Roberts presided over Lewis & Clark’s inaugural moot court competition. In what amounted to an unpublished print article and four days of prior restraint, several College officials insisted on having an article covering the moot court event be screened by Chief Justice Roberts’ office. When Ruiz questioned the legalities of such restrictions by Chief Justice Roberts’ office, a College official informed Ruiz that his tone will not be “tolerated” and that the Dean of Students Anna Gonzalez was informed of the situation.
The Pioneer Log was not made aware by LC officials that an article involving Chief Justice Roberts would have to be “pre-approved” before Tuesday afternoon.
After sending the article in on Tuesday for approval in an attempt to maintain cordial relations with the Law School, The Pioneer Log was well aware that the story would have no chance of being approved before its Wednesday evening deadline. Two emails were sent to the Law School expressing the urgency of this matter and the impending 5 p.m. deadline. The Law School did not send a copy of the article to the Supreme Court until 11:36 p.m. Wednesday evening—over six hours past deadline.
The Pioneer Log never received confirmation that the article had been received by the Law School, and did not receive any follow up communication until the Oregonian article went live on the night of Friday, April 12.
In an email to The Pioneer Log, Dean of the Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark Robert Klonoff apologized and said that he “regrets” what he called a “misunderstanding.” Klonoff later also apologized via an online comment to the Oregonian story published on the matter.
On Friday, Kolonoff informed Oregonian reporter Betsy Hammond that the article was only sent to the Supreme Court as a “heads-up,” yet his email to Chief Justice Roberts’ office states, “Attached is the college newspaper article about the Chief Justice’s visit. Please let me know if it meets with your approval.”
The same morning, Ruiz and Pillote received an email from Director of Public Relations Lise Harwin stating, “there was a misunderstanding with the Supreme Court. They have just informed us that student newspaper articles do not need to be approved by their office and have apologized for any miscommunication.” Harwin stated on Tuesday, Apr. 9, that the article had been sent to the Chief Justice’s office by the Law School, but emails indicate that this is incorrect.
LC’s Student Media Board bylaws assert that “the student press at Lewis & Clark is free from censorship and advance approval of content.” That said, the Office of Public Affairs and Communication and the Law School both independently claimed that they were given explicit instructions from the Chief Justice’s office that the article would need to be approved.
While the covenant was broken temporarily between the College and The Pioneer Log, there is a learning opportunity. The administration and Dean Klonoff have already apologized for their involvement in this matter. What we can learn from this is that First Amendment and freedom of the press issues are paramount in the minds of students, and that any form of censorship will create barriers between the administration and the students at large.
Regardless of the orders from Chief Justice Roberts’ Office, the College should have refused to send in any independent student publication for prior approval. The College has admitted its error and we look forward to having an open relationship with the administration in the future.
The award-winning student-run Pioneer Log has been an institution on campus for over 60 years. During this time, faculty advisors have come and gone, sometimes leaving students in the dark to make important decisions without a form of professional guidance. This semester, there is no dedicated faculty advisor to The Pioneer Log.
More importantly, of the 14 sections being offered in the Rhetoric and Media Studies Department for Fall 2013, none are explicitly related to journalism. This means that there are no dedicated classes on journalistic law or writing practices at LC.
Several editors and writers at The Pioneer Log have stressed the importance of an academic experience for writers and editors, and have expressed disappointment in the lack of academic support offered by the College. It is the position of The Pioneer Log that LC should invest in the journalistic education of its students in order to prevent future “misunderstandings” as well as demonstrate a continued support of free student press.