Obama admin pressures universities to adopt unconstitutional speech codes

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Under the Obama administration, the Education Department has pressured universities and the public schools to restrict speech, including off campus speech, even when it is protected by the First Amendment. It claims this is required by federal anti-discrimination laws such as Title IX and Title VI, even when the speech is not severe and pervasive. It also expects colleges to investigate off-campus sexual misconduct by students, even though most federal appellate court rulings say schools have no such duty under Title IX.

As I recently noted in The Wall Street Journal, “the Education Department, where I used to work,” is

pressuring colleges to adopt unconstitutional speech codes in the name of fighting sexual harassment. It has disregarded many court rulings in doing so.

For example, the Education Department has wrongly ordered schools to regulate off-campus speech and conduct. That contributed to the harassment charges against Prof. Laura Kipnis, who was accused over a politically incorrect essay she wrote in the Chronicle of Higher Education and statements she made on Twitter. Court rulings like Roe v. Saint Louis University (2014) reject Title IX claims over off-campus conduct, but the Education Department ignores them. It also ignores court rulings like Klein v. Smith (1986) emphasizing that the First Amendment usually bars public schools from restricting off-campus speech. For example, the Education Department told schools to regulate comments “on the Internet” in an October 2010 letter. In 2014, it demanded that Harvard regulate off-campus conduct more.

At Northwestern University, Professor Laura Kipnis was subjected to a bizarre Title IX investigation over her essay in the Chronicle titled “Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe” (which hypersensitive students claimed offended them and constituted sexual harassment) and her subsequent statements defending herself on Twitter (which the students claimed constituted “retaliation” in violation of Title IX, even though she did not identify them by name). Kipnis was ultimately found not guilty.

Read more at LibertyUnyielding

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