Trump DOJ Files Challenge Against University’s Free Speech Clampdown
It has been made clear from the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency that his administration takes a much different view when it comes to campus freedom than did his predecessor’s. Far from joining in the leftist condemnation of controversial speakers, President Trump, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have all warned universities that they risk violation of the First Amendment when they do not provide a secure atmosphere for right-wing guests and conservatives on campus grounds.
Now they are going to court over it.
This week, the Trump administration has issued a legal challenge to the University of Michigan’s rules on harassment, bullying, and bias, claiming that these rules defy freedom of speech and punish students who express views that conflict with leftist ideology. The Justice Department filed the challenge in a federal court brief supporting a student group that says they were persecuted by administrators for wearing MAGA caps and supporting President Trump.
That group, Speech First, is engaged in a lawsuit against the university, accusing the faculty of violating their First Amendment rights.
“Instead of protecting free speech, the university imposes a system of arbitrary censorship of, and punishment for, constitutionally protected speech,” wrote DOJ lawyers in the brief.
Of particular concern to the Justice Department is the university’s “Bias Response Team,” which has been charged with handling complaints from students regarding race, religion, sexual orientation, and other sensitive identity areas. The Trump administration told the court that the University of Michigan was spreading their definitions of bullying and harassment beyond legal interpretations and into the realm of social and academic terminology, much of which is influenced by an SJW culture untethered to reality in any way.
“The most important indication of bias,” one university-endorsed definition states, “is your own feelings.”
The original lawsuit, filed by Speech First, lists a litany of examples of conservatives being publicly banished, harassed, and driven into the shadows by an uncontrolled leftist mob at the school. In one memorable incident, speaker Charles Murray was “met with chants, music, intentionally annoying cellphone sounds, an overhead projector displaying an arrow pointing to him along with the words ‘white supremacist.’” This goes beyond the freedom to protest into a situation where only one side – the university’s side aka the LEFT side – enjoys the right to assemble and listen to invited speakers in peace. That’s not freedom; that’s tacitly-approved fascism.
The University of Michigan, of course, is far from the only school where young socialist nutjobs have been allowed free reign of the campus, but it’s encouraging to see that we have a government willing to step in and fix some of these problems that have turned higher education into an absolute zoo.