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.

Ben Shapiro to Speak at UConn; Intellectual Counter-event to Occur; UConn Bars Public Attendance

UPDATE 1.23.18 UConn has now announced only students can attend. This below article explains that this is not customary–a recent event featuring Anita Hill was free and open to the public:

https://legalinsurrection.com/2018/01/uconn-bars-public-from-ben-shapiro-speech/


How to watch live:

LIVE TONIGHT: Ben Shapiro Kicks Off 2018 Campus Tour

Ben Shapiro is scheduled to speak at UConn this week, hosted by UConn College Republics.

Event Details Courtesy Facebook:

Come listen to Ben Shapiro lecture about contemporary political issues and then answer questions from the crowd. Ben Shapiro is the voice of the young american conservative movement, this is will be a night of intellectual diversity, that the University of Connecticut has ever seen.

For a refresher, Ben at Berkeley and Ben at University of Utah, Salt Lake City sparked enormously emotional reactions, even accusations of fascism and hate.

Ben Shapiro at Universities: Why Are Students Driven to Seek Counseling?

——————

In a departure from other universities who have loudly protested Ben Shapiro, sometimes requiring a large and expensive security presence,  an “intellectual alternative”  event will be held by UConn College Democrats. Titled “Ben Shapiro is Not as Insightful as He Thinks He Is,” the event recognizes the value of free speech and a free exchange of ideas.

Event Details Courtesy Facebook:

The UConn College Democrats are pleased to host Nathan Robinson this Wednesday, January 24th at 7:00 in the Dodd Center. His talk will be named, “Ben Shapiro Is Not As Insightful As he Thinks He Is.” The talk will be followed by a Q&A.

Nathan Robinson is the editor in chief of Current Affairs, a Yale Law graduate, current Ph.D. student at Harvard, a prolific author and a public defender in New Orleans. He has written extensively on conservative thought and Ben Shapiro’s arguments throughout his career.

The UConn College Democrats are dedicated to free speech and scholarship on campus. Nathan will offer an intellectual alternative to Ben Shapiro. He will dissect the arguments used by campus conservatives and demonstrate that behind the big names of people like Ben Shapiro, there is little of substance to their arguments. We want to strike a balance between the desire for a free exchange of ideas and the desire for the ideas presented to be factually accurate, respectful in their presentation, and grounded in public policy and politics, not baiting people into the culture war. This event will be happening at the same time as Ben Shapiro’s talk, as we hope that this will be a better space for true discussion of the tough topics we face here at UConn and as a nation. We seek for this to be an event that confronts these tough topics while taking a stand against Shapiro and the UConn College Republicans’ attempts to divide our campus rather than unite us.

FREE tickets can be acquired the day of the event from 1-6pm at the Student Union ticket booth. A valid UConn ID is required. Please note that there will be bag restrictions for the talk and that security will be present to ensure an orderly event. We are excited to host Nathan and this campus for a wonderful night of discussion.


Kudos to UConn!

 

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.

Free Speech & Free Speech Zones on Campus: DOJ files statement of interest in FIRE lawsuit

Kevin Shaw on the campus of Pierce College (Dawn Bowery/FIRE)

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2017 — The Department of Justice on Tuesday filed a statement of interest in a California student’s lawsuit against his college’s free speech zone policies.

In March, Los Angeles Pierce College student Kevin Shaw filed a lawsuit challenging Pierce College and Los Angeles Community College District policies that restrict student free speech rights to tiny “free speech zones.” The lawsuit is part of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s Million Voices Campaign.

“The United States has an interest in protecting the individual rights guaranteed by the First Amendment,” according to the statement of interest, a brief filed by the attorney general expressing the interests of the United States in a pending lawsuit. “The right to free speech lies at the heart of a free society and is the ‘only effectual guardian of every other right.’”

The statement of interest argues that, based on the facts alleged in Shaw’s lawsuit, Pierce College and the district’s policies and practices violate student First Amendment rights and denied Shaw “his right to engage in expressive activity in a public forum.” Shaw is currently awaiting a Nov. 14 hearing on the defendants’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

“I am humbled to have the support of the Department of Justice,” said Shaw. “Their statement affirms what I’ve believed all along — that the First Amendment is essential to American progress, and nowhere more so than on a college campus.”

In November 2016, Shaw attempted to distribute Spanish-language copies of the U.S. Constitution and recruit new members for his student group, Young Americans for Liberty, along a main public walkway through campus. As he prepared, he was approached by an administrator who told him that he could not distribute literature outside the campus free speech zone, a tiny area on campus measuring approximately 616 square feet and comprising about .003 percent of the total area of Pierce College’s 426-acre campus.

Shaw was also told he must fill out a permit application to use the free speech zone. He was informed that he would be asked to leave campus if he refused to comply.

“FIRE is grateful for the Department of Justice’s decision to file a statement of interest in our lawsuit,” said FIRE Director of Litigation Marieke Tuthill Beck-Coon. “As the department rightly recognizes, these policies severely restrict the expressive rights of all students on each of the nine district campuses. We cannot allow the First Amendment rights that Kevin Shaw and his fellow students possess to be taken away by administrative fiat.”

The lawsuit was filed on March 28 in partnership with Arthur Willner, a partner at Leader & Berkon LLP, who is co-counsel with FIRE in the case. In addition to challenging Pierce College’s unconstitutional free speech zone and permit requirement, the lawsuit also challenges an LACCD policy that requires the president of each LACCD college to designate at least one free speech zone on their campus. With approximately 150,000 students, the LACCD is the largest community college district in the country.

“This lawsuit presents Pierce with the opportunity to move to the right side of this issue by ending its unconstitutional violation of its students’ First Amendment rights,” said Willner.

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 can do so through FIRE’s online case submission form. Attorneys interested in joining FIRE’s Legal Network can apply on FIRE’s website. https://www.thefire.org/

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.

Million Voices Campaign