Not all roses in the Garden State: FIRE welcomes New Jersey law protecting student journalists, but last-minute change would benefit from revision

Greg Gonzalez
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

Excerpt: In 2021, FIRE was pleased to see the New Jersey Legislature overwhelmingly pass Senate Bill 108, a bill designed to protect student journalists, but we are a bit less excited about its recent enactment after last-minute changes to the text. 

The legislature first sent the bill to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk in June, but he returned it to the legislature using a conditional veto, which gave the legislature a choice: Accept amendments offered by the governor, attempt to override the veto, or let the bill die. Murphy’s conditional veto sought two changes, which were accepted in late December. While the governor’s addition of “obscenity” is not a problem because obscene content (actual obscenity, not “swear words”) is also unprotected, the inclusion of “profane” speech is a clear affront to students’ free speech rights.