In a refreshing message delivered earlier this week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions called for a “national recommitment to free speech on campus” while speaking at the Georgetown University law school.
To the point, on September 26th the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a Statement of Interest in a free speech case that two students filed against a public college in the northern district of Georgia. The case, Uzuegbunam and Bradford v. Preczewski, et al., Civil Action No. 1:16-cv-04658-ELR, involves a challenge to the public school’s Speech Zone Policy and its implementation of the policy. DOJ’s Statement sides with the students in their contentions that the school’s free speech policy and practices are unconstitutional under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
In recent months, campus speech has generated Hill interest (committee hearings in House and Senate), and can be expected to engage members during any mark-up of higher education reauthorization legislation. To date, Congress has authored a Sense of the Congress on Campus Free Speech. It dates back to 1998 (slightly amended in 2008) as part of the Higher Education Act. This time, a stronger push is likely.