DOJ Joins Fight for Free Speech on College Campuses

27 September, 2017, 00:49 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to call out campus political correctness and censorship in a Tuesday speech.'Who is to decide what is offensive and what is acceptable what is odious and what is good? he plans to say

As President Donald Trump ramps up his criticism of NFL National Anthem protests, his attorney general on Tuesday waded into a different culture war with an address to law students about free speech on college campuses. In this case, the Center for the Constitution chose to invite students who have attended past events held by the center, and Barnett invited students from his classes.

He cited instances on college campuses that he claimed were either a violation of students' freedom of speech - like students who were arrested in MI for passing out copies of the Constitution - or a university's attempt to shut down diversity of thought. According to the Washington Post, a group of more than 130 students had initially applied from the school to sit in on Sessions' speech, only to be told later that the would not be allowed to attend as they were not part of the invited list of guests.

Ambur Smith, 24, a third-year law student who was protesting outside, said holding a speech about free expression but limiting the audience was "hypocritical". It undercuts the spirit of the First Amendment and stifles the robust debate characteristic of a top tier law school.

"An opportunity to express our freedom of speech today was taken from us", on speaker told those gathered outside of the Georgetown auditorium. "We hope in the future that AG Sessions will be courageous enough to engage in the robust debate that he claims to value".

Gwinnett College's policy is to limit student protests to a pair of small 'free-speech zones, ' which the DOJ says total 0.0015 per cent of the campus. It's a fraught topic nationally, with many conservatives saying that only liberal viewpoints are welcome on many college campuses, stifling free exchange and overly sensitive students finding alternative viewpoints too offensive to hear.

"Protesters are now routinely shutting down speeches and debates across the country in an effort to silence voices that insufficiently conform with their views", he said.

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"I would note, of course, that the players aren't subject to any prosecution".

Without specifically naming conservative campus groups, he encouraged students 'to ask questions, to push back and to challenge what may be orthodoxy in many different areas'.

Sessions' comments come amid debate on college campuses over controversial speakers who have drawn sometimes violent protests.

When asked why he was protesting Sessions, Blauser brought up the "the irony of the administration saying that free speech on campus is under threat while calling for National Football League players who protest to be fired", the crackdown on government whistleblowers, "embrace of outdated, racist criminal justice policies", and the "dismantling of civil justice programs", for starters. "(If you hate yourself, feel free watch the entire thing at PBS News Hour.) It included whinging about the university as" an echo chamber of political correctness", a condemnation of Antifa, incredibly out-of-context and inappropriate references to Martin Luther King, Jr., and chuckling at the idea of students needing counseling when a hateful speaker comes to campus.

Sessions's own campus visit Tuesday was in a controlled environment.

Before the talk, several Georgetown faculty members joined the protesting students on the steps of McDonough Hall, where they took a knee and linked arms. "We want people to understand what the First Amendment means". Both policies, she said, are in line with university policy "given limited capacity".

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