Christopher Hitchens on Free Speech: To whom are you going to award the job of being the censor?

Excerpted from University of Toronto debate “Freedom of Speech includes the Freedom to Hate” held November 2006.

“To whom do you award the right to decide which speech is harmful or who is the harmful speaker? Or determine in advance what are the harmful consequences going to be, that we know enough about in advance to prevent? To whom would you give this job? To whom are you going to award the job of being the censor?”

Orrin Hatch Introduces Bill to Protect Free Speech on College Campuses

Feb 07 2018

Washington, D.C.— Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the senior Republican in the United States Senate, introduced the FREE Act, legislation to protect free speech on college campuses.

Justice Department Files Statement of Interest in California College Free Speech Case

“My proposal would require public colleges and universities to provide clear guidance on their efforts to protect free speech and the free exchange of all ideas,” Hatch said. “Students on campus should know that any regulation of speech remains content-neutral, apolitical, and narrowly tailored. They should be able to trust that their campuses will foster free speech, not stifle it.”

https://www.scribd.com/document/371020657/Free-Right-to-Expression-in-Education-Act-sponsored-by-Republican-Sen-Orrin-Hatch#from_embed

He wrote more about this critical issue and how his legislation would help bolster free speech in an op-ed this afternoon in National Review:

 Protecting Free Speech Where It Matters Most, on the College Campus

By Senator Orrin G. Hatch

 http://www.nationalreview.com/article/456164/free-speech-college-campuses-legislation-ensure-it

FIRE names America’s 10 worst colleges for free speech: 2018

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 12, 2018 — Each year, colleges across the country find dubious ways to silence student and faculty expression. In the last year, administrators became embroiled in litigation for telling a student he couldn’t hand out Spanish-language copies of the U.S. Constitution outside a free speech zone, continued a years-long effort to ban a group from campus due to its political viewpoint, and even investigated a professor for a satirical tweet — eventually driving him to resign.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has identified America’s 10 worst colleges for free speech, published today with detailed descriptions on FIRE’s website.
This year’s list includes the following institutions, in no particular order:
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, N.Y.)
  • Drexel University (Philadelphia, Pa.)
  • Harvard University (Cambridge, Mass.)
  • Los Angeles Community College District (Los Angeles, Calif.)
  • Fordham University (New York, N.Y.)
  • Evergreen State College (Olympia, Wash.)
  • Albion College (Albion, Mich.)
  • Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.)
  • University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, Calif.)
  • Texas State University (San Marcos, Texas)
The institutions on FIRE’s annual list of worst colleges include one university that threatened the funding and editorial process of its independent student newspaper, another that erected fences around campus to keep peaceful student demonstrators out of sight of donors, and yet another that put a student through a months-long investigation and a four-hour hearing for a joke. (That student is still waiting to learn his fate!)
“College administrators, and sometimes even students, are going to greater and greater lengths to justify muzzling expression on campus,” said FIRE Executive Director Robert Shibley. “This type of censorship makes for a sterile environment where lively debate and discussion can’t thrive. The public deserves to know which colleges will defend free expression — and which ones will go to seemingly any length to silence it.”
For the first time, FIRE also awarded a Lifetime Censorship Award to one university that threatens the free speech rights of its students and faculty so often that it deserves individual infamy: DePaul University.
DePaul earned the 2018 Lifetime Censorship Award in recognition of its decade-long rap sheet of suppressing speech at every turn. From denying recognition to a student organization criticizing marijuana laws, to forcing the DePaul Socialists, Young Americans for Freedom, and College Republicans to pay for security in order to host speakers at their meetings and events, to forbidding a group from using the slogan “Gay Lives Matter,” DePaul has staked out a leadership position in stifling campus expression.
FIRE’s 2018 list includes both public and private institutions. Public colleges and universities are bound by the First Amendment. Private colleges on this list are not required by the Constitution to respect student and faculty speech rights, but explicitly promise to do so.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending liberty, freedom of speech, due process, academic freedom, legal equality, and freedom of conscience on America’s college campuses.

Neo-Nazis Driven Off CSU Campus After Turning Point USA Event

Courtesy Unicorn Riot:

Fort Collins, CO – On Friday night, Turning Point USA (TPUSA), a right-wing xenophobic student group, held a “Smashing Socialism” speaking event featuring its founder Charlie Kirk, at Colorado State University (CSU). A call to protest the event came from the Northern Colorado Antifa Collective, who has stated they oppose TPUSA because the organization provides “sanctuary” to “dangerously prejudicial sentiments.” The evening ended with police dispersal orders as an amassed crowd of antifascists confronted a small group of neo-Nazis who arrived at the end of the event, driving them off campus.

In the days leading up to TPUSA leader Charlie Kirk’s speech on Friday night, fliers from the national socialist Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP) were found on campus. Various news outlets began to report that TWP members were planning to attend the February 2 event. While CSU president Tony Frank condemned the TWP fliers, TPUSA chapter president Isabel Brown, in statements to the Coloradoan, did not. Brown later backpedaled on her original support by stating that TPUSA condemns white nationalism; TPUSA head Charlie Kirk made statements to this effect during his Friday night speech as well.

The German anti-racist group HateXchange created a fundraising campaign to “adopt a Nazi enabler” and donate on behalf of the Traditionalist Worker Party members planning to attend. Donations from the campaign go to CSU Student Diversity Programs and to Life After Hate, an organization that works to help people leave hate groups.

Hours before the event, local police and EMTs were seen staging with vehicles and shields.

Full story and more photos from Unicorn Riot may be found here:

Neo-Nazis Driven Off CSU Campus After Turning Point USA Event

This tweet from speaker Charlie Kirk after the event denounced violence on both sides:

Jordan Peterson & Ben Shapiro: The Frontline of Free Speech

View this episode of The Rubin Report, recorded live on Jan. 31, 2018:

Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro join Dave Rubin for a live discussion about postmodernism, Trump, conservatism, free speech, and rules for life.

Renowned psychologist Jordan B. Peterson’s new book is currently a bestseller. What does everyone in the modern world need to know? Peterson’s answer to this most difficult of questions uniquely combines the hard-won truths of ancient tradition with the stunning revelations of cutting-edge scientific research.

Ben Shapiro entered UCLA at the age of sixteen and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and graduated Harvard Law School cum laude. At seventeen, Shapiro was hired by Creators Syndicate, becoming the youngest nationally syndicated columnist in the United States. He has appeared on hundreds of television and radio shows and is the author of the national bestsellers Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America’s Youth, Porn Generation: How Social Liberalism Is Corrupting Our Future, and Project President: Bad Hair and Botox on the Road to the White House. Shapiro is married and lives in Los Angeles.

Justice Department Files Statement of Interest in California College Free Speech Case

Photo: Ben Shapiro was one of the high-profile speakers hosted by YAF this year at UC Berkeley. The event prompted counter-protests, a high level of security, and offers of counseling for students who did not feel safe.
Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Department of Justice filed a Statement of Interest in Young America’s Foundation and Berkeley College Republicans v. Janet Napolitano. The plaintiffs, Berkeley College Republicans (BCR) and Young America’s Foundation (YAF), allege that the University of California, Berkeley, enforced a double standard when applied to free speech. BCR alleges that UC Berkeley applied a more rigorous and highly discretionary set of rules to their organization compared to other campus groups, especially with respect to “high-profile” campus speakers.

The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit as a result of excessive hurdles BCR faced in bringing speakers of their choice onto campus. They allege that UC Berkeley’s High Profile Speaker Policy and Major Events Policy violated their rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that Berkeley’s “High-Profile Speaker Policy” granted administrators unfettered discretion to decide which speakers are subject to arduous curfews, prohibitive security costs, or undesirable venues. In one instance, administrators—who had full discretion to determine who constituted a “high-profile speaker”—established a 3:00 pm “curfew” that conflicted with class times.

While the plaintiffs attempted to book speakers under the restrictions of the “High-Profile Speaker Policy,” a former president of Mexico and a former White House adviser were hosted at the University, but University administrators did not apply the High-Profile Speakers Policy to those events.

Berkeley counseling for impact speakers “have on individuals’ sense of safety & belonging”

In filing the Statement of Interest, Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand provided the following statement:

“This Department of Justice will not stand by idly while public universities violate students’ constitutional rights.”

In addition to the statement, Associate Attorney General today penned an op-ed(link is external) on the issue of campus free speech.

This is the third Statement of Interest filed by the Department of Justice in a First Amendment case under Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The first was filed on September 26, 2017 in Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski, and the second was filed on October 24, 2017 in Shaw v. Burke.

Attorney General Sessions reestablished the Department’s commitment to protecting First Amendment rights—especially campus free speech– in a speech at Georgetown Law School in 2017.

FIRE files lawsuit on behalf of Illinois student detained by police for ‘Shut Down Capitalism’ flyers

Photo: Student Ivette Salazar was detained by campus police for passing out flyers critical of capitalism.

By  January 11, 2018

  • A campus police officer told student Ivette Salazar she has freedom of speech only if Joliet Junior College approves it.

CHICAGO, Jan. 11, 2018 — Joliet Junior College student Ivette Salazar only wanted to do what Americans do every day: exercise her First Amendment right to respond to an opposing viewpoint. For that, campus police detained her, confiscated her political flyers, and told her she has freedom of speech only if JJC gives its approval.

That’s not how the First Amendment works, and that’s why Salazar filed a lawsuit today against JJC. The lawsuit is the latest for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s Million Voices Campaign, which aims to free the voices of one million students by striking down unconstitutional speech codes nationwide.

On Nov. 28, after seeing members of a conservative student group distributing anti-socialism materials on campus, Salazar decided to provide an alternate viewpoint by distributing flyers from the Party for Socialism and Liberation that read “Shut Down Capitalism.” After being reported by campus staff, she was detained by JJC police for approximately 40 minutes, interrogated at the campus police station, and told she could not distribute her flyers because of the “political climate of the country.”

When Salazar asked the officers detaining her about her free speech rights, she said one JJC police officer told her, “If you want to go ahead and post your flyers and burn your crosses, you have to get it approved” by the school. Her flyers were confiscated to ensure that she did not distribute them on campus.
“Debating the merits of economic and governmental systems is core political speech,” said FIRE Director of Litigation Marieke Tuthill Beck-Coon. “Campus police got it backward: The current ‘political climate’ is a reason for more speech, not censorship. If tense political times justified restricting political speech, the First Amendment would be pointless.”
FIRE wrote to JJC President Judy Mitchell on Dec. 4 to demand that the college comply with its legal obligations as a public institution bound by the First Amendment. FIRE did not receive a response to its letter.
“I should be able to express my political beliefs on campus without being detained,” said Salazar. “JCC didn’t just threaten my freedom of speech, but the freedom of speech of every student on that campus. If we can’t have political discussions on a college campus, then where can we have them?”
As part of her lawsuit, Salazar challenges the constitutionality of JJC’s “Free Speech Area” policy. The policy restricts expressive activity to one small, indoor area of campus, requires students to request use of the area five business days in advance, requires students to disclose the purpose of their speech, allows for only two people to use the area at a time, and requires students to remain behind a table. If a student wants to distribute literature while in the area, he or she also has to get the materials approved by administrators ahead of time.
Salazar’s lawsuit also alleges that JJC violated her Fourth Amendment rights by unlawfully detaining her.
Today’s lawsuit was filed in partnership with FIRE Legal Network member and former president of the First Amendment Lawyers Association Wayne Giampietro of Poltrock & Giampietro in Chicago. Giampietro serves as co-counsel with FIRE in the case.
“A public college should be teaching its students the existence and value of the freedoms protected by our federal and state constitutions, not violating those freedoms,” said Giampietro. “The First Amendment protects our most cherished right to speak freely on political matters. It is deplorable that public school employees, paid with our tax money, would detain, interrogate, and seize political materials from a student who is attempting to exercise that right.”
If you are a student who has been censored on campus, FIRE and its Legal Network partners stand ready to protect your First Amendment rights in court. Students interested in submitting their case to FIRE’s Million Voices Campaign may do so through FIRE’s online case submission form. Attorneys interested in joining FIRE’s Legal Network should apply on FIRE’s website.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending liberty, freedom of speech, due process, academic freedom, legal equality, and freedom of conscience on America’s college campuses.

FIRE’s 2017 year in review for student and faculty rights on campus

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 28, 2017 — From students shouting down an invited speaker and injuring a professor at Middlebury College in Vermont to the violent Berkeley protests in California, the campus free speech debate swept the nation in 2017. Throw in the withdrawal of the federal government’s controversial “Dear Colleague” letter that for over six years threatened the due process rights of students and faculty accused of sexual misconduct, and it’s easy to see why the offices at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education were anything but quiet this year.
As 2017 comes to a close, FIRE looks back on a year of challenges and triumphs — a year during which more students and faculty members than ever before approached FIRE to help protect their rights.
“Students and faculty shouldn’t have to appeal to an outside organization like FIRE in order to exercise their speech rights or get a fair shake in campus judicial proceedings, but the sad reality is that they do,” said FIRE Executive Director Robert Shibley. “We worked with policymakers to help inform common-sense legislation and administrators to implement speech-friendly campus policies. And we’ll continue this work until student and faculty rights are secured.”
FIRE’s highlights from 2017 include:
  • FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program received more than 900 requests for help from students and faculty members across the country in 2017 — more requests than any other year in FIRE’s history. FIRE’s defense of student and faculty rights took us to Howard UniversityFordham UniversityWichita State UniversityUniversity of New HampshireRensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and many more schools this year.
  • In February, FIRE released the first-ever nationwide report on campus Bias Response Teams. These teams encourage students to formally report on one another and on faculty members whenever they subjectively perceive that someone’s speech is “biased.” The report found that 232 public and private American colleges and universities publicly maintained bias response programs, affecting an estimated 2.8 million students.
  • In another win for FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld FIRE’s victory at Iowa State University. And in March, the project filed a new lawsuit against the Los Angeles Community College District that aims to free over 150,000 students from unconstitutional free speech zones. The litigation project’s 13 total lawsuits have so far restored free speech rights to more than 270,000 students.
  • In May, Tennessee passed bipartisan legislation that FIRE called “the most comprehensive state legislation protecting free speech on college campuses that we’ve seen be passed anywhere in the country.” The legislation requires institutions to adopt policies consistent with the University of Chicago’s Free Speech Policy Statement, prohibits the use of misleadingly labeled “free speech zones,” bars institutions from rescinding invitations to speakers invited by students or faculty, and more. Campus free speech legislation also passed this year in ColoradoUtah, and North Carolina.
  • In September, FIRE released a first-of-its-kind report on due process at America’s top universities, which found that 85 percent of schools rated received a D or F grade for not ensuring due process rights. Shockingly, 74 percent of top universities do not even expressly guarantee accused students the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
  • Just two days after the due process report was released, the Department of Education announced it would rescind the controversial 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter that threatened the due process rights of students and faculty accused of sexual misconduct on campus. For six and a half years, FIRE led the fight against the misguided letter.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions mentioned FIRE’s work in a speech on the importance of free speech at Georgetown University. Sessions highlighted FIRE’s Spotlight database and our lawsuit against the Los Angeles Community College District. The Department of Justice later filed a statement of interest in the lawsuit.
  • In October, FIRE released a groundbreaking survey on free speech that found a majority of students on college campuses self-censor in class, support disinviting some guest speakers with whom they disagree, and don’t know that so-called “hate speech” is usually protected by the First Amendment. The study also found that Republican and Democratic students have different opinions on campus protests, disinvitations, and hate speech protections.
  • FIRE’s So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast, launched in Spring 2016, released its 50th episode. The bi-weekly show takes an uncensored look at the world of free expression through personal stories and candid conversations. This year the podcast featured Daryl Davis, a black musician who convinces people to leave the Ku Klux Klan through open dialogue; the all-Asian rock band The Slants, who took their free speech fight all the way to the Supreme Court and won; and Nadine Strossen, former president of the ACLU, on the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.
  • Earlier this month, Emory University became the 11th institution to earn FIRE’s highest, “green light” rating in 2017, bringing the total number of green light institutions to 37.
  • And just last week, FIRE released its annual Spotlight on Speech Codes report, which found that the number of colleges with FIRE’s poorest, “red light” rating for maintaining speech codes that both clearly and substantially restrict freedom of speech is down to 32.3 percent — seven percentage points lower than last year and almost 42 percentage points lower than in FIRE’s 2009 report.
“For the tenth year in a row, the most harmful speech codes are coming off the books throughout the country,” said Shibley. “But the growth of bias response teams, the continued disinvitation of invited speakers and — most alarmingly — the violence on too many campuses show us that we have a lot of work to do in 2018 and beyond.”
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending liberty, freedom of speech, due process, academic freedom, legal equality, and freedom of conscience on America’s college campuses.

Emory University earns FIRE’s highest rating for free speech

ATLANTA, Dec. 5, 2017 — Emory University has removed language from its policies that chilled free expression on campus, earning it the highest, “green light” rating for free speech on campus from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
After working to ensure that the policies across all of its departments reflect the university’s commitment to free speech, Emory has become the first green light institution in the state of Georgia — and just the 37th institution nationwide to earn FIRE’s most favorable rating.
“We are excited to welcome Emory to the ranks of green light institutions,” said FIRE Executive Director Robert Shibley. “As one of only 37 schools in the country to earn a green light rating from FIRE, Emory is now positioned to become a national leader in protecting free speech on campus.”

To earn its green light rating, Emory revised its undergraduate conduct code, as well as policies governing campus bias incidents and the use of information technology resources. FIRE worked on the changes with Alexander “Sasha” Volokh, chair of Emory’s Open Expression Committee and a professor at Emory University School of Law.

“Once these policies were brought to our attention, everyone basically agreed that it was a matter of mistaken or outdated language that did not reflect the values of Emory’s Open Expression Policy,” Volokh said. “The credit really belongs to Emory’s administrators, from President Claire Sterk on down, who strongly support open expression on campus — as well as to the University Senate that adopted the Open Expression Policy five years ago.”

“It was a pleasure to work with Emory on these revisions,” said FIRE Vice President of Policy Research Samantha Harris. “We hope other institutions both in Georgia and across the country will follow Emory’s lead and adopt policies that fully protect students’ free speech rights.”

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending liberty, freedom of speech, due process, academic freedom, legal equality, and freedom of conscience on America’s college campuses.

Update: Refusal to Make a Cake for a Gay Wedding: Discrimination or First Amendment Right?

Photo courtesy Masterpiece Cakeshop, Facebook.

UPDATE: Excellent summary of today’s events: 12.5.17

Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, Argument analysis: Conservative majority leaning toward ruling for Colorado baker (UPDATED), SCOTUSblog (Dec. 5, 2017, 12:18 PM), http://www.scotusblog.com/2017/12/argument-analysis-conservative-majority-leaning-toward-ruling-colorado-baker/

United States Supreme Court Docket, December 5, 2017

16-111 MASTERPIECE CAKESHOP V. CO CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION

QUESTION PRESENTED:
Jack Phillips is a cake artist. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled that he engaged in sexual orientation discrimination under the Colorado Anti- Discrimination Act (“CADA”) when he declined to design and create a custom cake honoring a same-sex marriage because doing so conflicts with his sincerely held religious beliefs.
The Colorado Court of Appeals found no violation of the Free Speech or Free Exercise Clauses because it deemed Phillips’ speech to be mere conduct compelled by a neutral and generally applicable law. It reached this conclusion despite the artistry of Phillips’ cakes and the
Commission’s exemption of other cake artists who declined to create custom cakes based on their message. This analysis (1) flouts this Court’s controlling precedent, (2) conflicts with Ninth and Eleventh Circuit decisions regarding the free speech protection of art, (3) deepens an existing conflict between the Second, Third, Sixth, and Eleventh Circuits as to the proper test for identifying expressive conduct, and (4) conflicts with free exercise rulings by the Third,
Sixth, and Tenth Circuits.

The question presented is: Whether applying Colorado’s public accommodations law to compel Phillips to create expression that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage violates the Free Speech or Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment.

————–

Courtesy ACLU:

On December 5, 2017, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on whether a business open to the public has a constitutional right to discriminate.

David Mullins and Charlie Craig visited Masterpiece Cakeshop in July 2012, with Charlie’s mother, to order a cake for their upcoming wedding reception. Dave and Charlie planned to marry in Massachusetts and then celebrate with family and friends back home in Colorado. But bakery owner Jack Phillips informed them that the bakery wouldn’t sell wedding cakes to same-sex couples.

Longstanding Colorado state law prohibits public accommodations, including businesses open to the public such as Masterpiece Cakeshop, from refusing service based on characteristics like race, religion, orsexual orientation. Dave and Charlie filed complaintswith the Colorado Civil Rights Division contendingthat the bakery violated

Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act. Following an investigation and hearings, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission determined that the bakery illegally discriminated against Dave and Charlie when it refused them service.

On August 13, 2015, the Colorado Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the Commission’s order, finding that the bakery discriminated because of sexual orientation in violation of state law. The court also concluded that application of Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act did not infringe the bakery’s freedom of speech or free exercise of religion. The Colorado Supreme Court denied review, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari on June 26, 2017.

Status: After victories for equality at every stage of the case, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral argument on December 5, 2017. In advance of oral argument, more than 40 friend-of-the-court briefs were filed in support of Dave and Charlie.