Yet again, FIRE has delivered a warning to public colleges and universities with highly restrictive speech codes: Revise the policies or risk a First Amendment lawsuit and personal liability.Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people.
Yesterday, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) sent a national certified mailing to 111 of the country’s largest and most prestigious public colleges and universities. The colleges receiving the mailing earn FIRE’s poorest, “red light” rating for clearly and substantially restricting student and faculty speech on campus. The list of letter recipients includes Clemson University, the University of Oregon, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Georgia, and the University of Kansas.
FIRE’s mailing reminds recipient institutions of U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Representative Bob Goodlatte’s August 2015 letter urging administrators at red light schools to revise policies that violate the First Amendment. Further, as yesterday’s mailing warns, university administrators who continue to violate clearly established law with respect to expressive rights risk losing their “qualified immunity”—meaning they could be held personally liable for monetary damages in a student or faculty member’s lawsuit.
I'm reminded of one of Milton Friedman's quotes:
“I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it is politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either, or it they try, they will shortly be out of office.”If you can't make it profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, making it painful for them to do the wrong thing might work.
Update: The UC system is in danger, too:
The UC CEO penned a piece in the Boston Globe titled, “It’s time to free speech on campus again.” I was encouraged on seeing this title. Having praised the University of Chicago’s defense of free speech on campus, I thought the University of California was offering its support. I thought that this might signal the beginning of the restoration of free speech—and with it, of learning—on America’s increasingly politicized, repressive college campuses.Read the whole thing for the reasons why.
I was wrong...