The National Association of Scholars commends Attorney General Jeff Sessions for announcing his intention to have the Justice Department file “a Statement of Interest in a campus free speech case to challenge a policy at Georgia Gwinnett College that limited student expressive activity to two small ‘free-speech zones.’”
We also applaud the Attorney General’s statement that the Justice Department will be taking further actions nationwide to restore the rule of law to our nation’s campuses—to “enforce federal law, defend free speech, and protect students’ free expression from whatever end of the political spectrum it may come.” The Justice Department has previously been AWOL or complicit as colleges have slowly squeezed the life out of their students’ freedoms, and it has complacently watched as antifa mobs silenced dissenting speech by force. Attorney General Sessions’ statement rallying the Department to the defense of campus liberty marks a new chapter in history.
Earlier this month the Department of Education (DoE) under Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinded the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter that abrogated students’ due process rights. Attorney General Sessions’ announcement makes clear that this initiative is not confined to the Department of Education, but belongs to the Trump administration as a whole. We welcome the administration’s efforts to restore intellectual freedom and freedom of expression to our college campuses.
Attorney General Sessions’ announcement properly focuses on defending students’ Constitutional and legal rights with the powers available to the Justice Department. The NAS now calls on Congress to join in the good work of the Trump administration and pass the Freedom to Learn Amendments to the Higher Education Act, which will provide legal protection to students’ liberty on campus that will endure even after the current administration’s end of term.
“For too long the federal government has stood by while colleges deprive students of liberty and wink at mob violence,” said NAS president Peter Wood. “Attorney General Sessions has taken an important first step toward restoring our constitutional freedoms to campus.”
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