Racially charged controversy erupted on the Dartmouth College (defendant) campus after The Dartmouth Review (plaintiff), a school newspaper, criticized a black professor. Dartmouth disciplined the Review's white student staffers, who then sued Dartmouth in federal district court. The staffers' lengthy complaint largely consisted of charges, accompanied by invective, that Dartmouth discriminated against them because they were white. To support that charge, the staffers alleged that Dartmouth officials rushed to defend the professor, abetted black student protests, publicly accused the staffers of racism, conducted a procedurally unfair disciplinary hearing, and punished the staffers more severely than black students. The court, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), dismissed the complaint as failing to state an actionable claim. The students appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.