Sessions: Too much suppression of free speech on campus
Attorney General Jeff Sessions tells Tucker why the Justice Dept. is entering the legal battle over free speech on college campuses. Plus, Sessions sounds off on Trump us. NFL #Tucker
The battle on the campus of the freedom of expression is extended to state legislatures, with eight laws on the issue, and more than a dozen others are considering measures aimed at the protection of the First Amendment rights at colleges and universities.
Florida, Nebraska and Texas, in the middle of the action on introduced bills on the campus of the free speech and the measures that are pending in approximately 10 other states.
The republicans are the force behind the accounts, that differ from each other on a number of aspects, but at the core of their policies and practices on college campuses that legislators and their supporters say disproportionately are used to censor or restrict conservative speakers and groups of students.
University of Nebraska student Courtney Lawton protest in front of a recruiting table for the conservative student group Turning point in the united states.
(Thanks to Kaitlyn Mullen)
“Freedom of speech is under pressure. We see a national push-back against censorship and the shout-downs at the campuses,” said Thomas Lindsay, director of the Center for Higher Education at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative-leaning think tank. “It is logical that the Republicans are the introduction of laws, for they are the ones whose opinions are out of fashion.”
Lindsay said a 2016 study showed there were 36 speakers disinvited from campuses across the country, and said: “almost all were conservative.”
He drew parallels with the free speech campus movement of the 1960s, “when it was the left fight for freedom of expression at colleges.”
Lindsay, who testified about the issue recently at a Texas legislative session, said the violent incidents in the past year in Berkeley, and the University of Missouri “brought this issue to the fore, and gaining steam.”
States that have already adopted campus of the free speech laws are Virginia, Missouri, Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin, according to the National Council of State Legislatures.
The debates between the lawmakers of the state are, not surprisingly, largely along party lines.
It is logical that it is the Republicans the introduction of laws, for they are the ones whose opinions are out of fashion. A 2016 study showed there were 36 speakers disinvited, and virtually all are conservative.
– Thomas Lindsay, director of the Center for Higher Education at the Texas Public Policy Foundation
The republicans, in general, the fight for the states, as they see it, the protection of the First Amendment rights on campuses by pushing for measures that the ban on the common practice of restricting the freedom of speech. These limitations are usually visible in the protests, or even handing out flyers that have a social or political stand on an issue — for designated areas. Many would like to see that the colleges are often cumbersome criteria for the recognition of a lecture by a high-profile speaker or student of political event that many say are not equally applied to the conservatives.
Many Democrats say that the U.S. Constitution already protects freedom of speech, and that states have no need to micromanage how colleges handle student demonstrations and speakers. Many objected to the fines, a number of measures call for, such as the imposition of fines or firing – in the case of professors and other college employees – those who are deemed to have deprived a person or group who has the freedom of speech.
A Florida bill approved by the senate Education Committee, for example, a prohibition on free speech zones on campuses, and provides for suing the institution up to $100,000 in damage as the First Amendment rights of the speaker or of the protesters is “intentionally” violated.
“This is a bloom of the limitation of the freedom of speech, in particular, about the country,” said bill sponsor Sen. Dennis Baxley, a Republican, according to the Gainesville Sun. “Many of our universities are limiting free speech to free-speech zones. And there is something antithetical about free speech area say that you can only do in this small square.”
The democrat Sen. Perry Thurston in vain fought for the abolition of the obligation provision, says a huge financial burden for the colleges and universities that are likely to be targeted in lawsuits.
“This bill will chill freedom of speech on our state college campuses,” said Kara Gross, policy council for the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Orlando Sentinel. “Because it would be to our state’s institutions of higher education spend considerable resources in defending against such frivolous lawsuits, this bill encourages these institutions to restrict students freedom of speech and peaceful assembly out of concern that someone might boo too hard.”
Nebraska lawmakers are debating a campus of the free speech measure, Republican Sen. Steve Halloran, following an incident that made national news last year. A student at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, who set up a table near the Student Union to recruit new members for her conservative group, Turning point USA, was confronted with a graduate teaching assistant and two teachers – an incident that the reduced Kaitlyn Mullen, 20, to tears, and asked her to go home.
The graduate teaching assistant, Courtney Lawton, flipped from Mullen and called her a “neo-fascist, videos of the incident show. The footage also shows Lawton to say, among other things, that the student “wants to destroy public schools, public universities.”
A professor, Amanda Gailey, stood in front of Mullen with a sign with the text: “Turning Point: please put me on your watch list. Prof. Amanda Gailey.” Turning point in the U.S. advocates for conservative causes and maintains a “professor watch list” of the faculty of the views as radically liberal.
Gailey said her intent was to give expression to its opposition to Turning point united states, which liberal groups say carries witchhunts of the professors who are in possession of the views they find objectionable. Critics of the group say, Turning point’s actions are dangerous because they encourage, even if accidentally, threats and intimidation of the liberal professors.
“I went there that day to civil protest, Turning point USA Professor Watch List,” Gailey told Fox News. “I brought up a polite sign, stood silent and apart from everyone … I oppose that organization but I do not against her right to advocate for, and I would not harass a student. If someone encounters opposition, that does not mean that their First Amendment rights have been violated.”
Gailey said when she saw Mullen to be angry, she put the plate to check on the student.”
Mullen said that she did not anticipate the tensions that arose about her idea to have a table that they are manned by — in an area on campus that was heavy traffic, and to raise awareness about the Turning point in the united states.
Gailey notes that she does not agree with the designated free speech zones, to say that in general “most of the public places on the campus should be open to free speech.”
The university later decided not to renew Lawton doctrine of the contract and made the changes to ensure the freedom of expression. “They have made the right decision,” Mullen said. “It is disappointing that it took so long.”
Lawton did not respond to messages from Fox News looking for a reaction.
Lindsay argued the free speech debates, as controversial as they are, college administrators and legislators of the state, speaking well for the country. “Everyone sees there is a problem, and to vote with the ratification of the primacy of free speech,” he said. “That is very encouraging.”
“The country is very polarized in many ways,” Lindsay said. “That means that there is a growing anger on both sides. And if we
angry, we refuse to listen, and that is when the First Amendment is the most in danger, and it is also when the First Amendment is most needed.”
Elizabeth Llorente is a Senior Reporter for FoxNews.com and can be reached at Elizabeth.Llorente@Foxnews.com. Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Llorente.