ON-Lion Letter
This month the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) served notice to 111 universities around the country that their speech codes are in violation of the Constitution, and that their administrators may be held personally liable for the violations. The schools have been given a “red light” rating by FIRE, denoting the worst category of speech restrictions.

“Administrators at these schools can no longer claim they are unaware that their policies violate First Amendment rights,” said FIRE Director of Policy Reform, Azhar Majeed. “FIRE’s message is clear: Failing to revise unconstitutional speech codes can result in a loss in court and personal liability.”

FIRE works with university administrations across the country to help them to bring their speech policies in line with the law, and represents students and faculty in a wide range of issues when school policies violate their rights. So far, more than 60 colleges and universities have turned to FIRE for assistance in revising their speech codes.

Federal and state courts have consistently struck down campus speech codes as violations of the First Amendment, but this year a district court judge indicated that administrators who attempt to curtail student speech may not be eligible for “qualified immunity,” meaning they could be held personally liable for monetary damages.

Freedom of speech is a fundamental American freedom and a human right, and there’s no place that this right should be more valued and protected than America’s colleges and universities. Nevertheless, freedom of speech is under continuous threat at many of America’s campuses, pushed aside in favor of politics, comfort, or simply a desire to avoid controversy. As a result, speech codes dictating what may or may not be said, “free speech zones” confining free speech to tiny areas of campus, and administrative attempts to punish or repress speech on a case-by-case basis are common today in academia.

For a list of all 111 schools whose speech codes violate the Constitution, click here

FIRE is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending liberty, freedom of speech, due process, academic freedom, legal equality, and freedom of conscience on America’s college campuses.  It is supported by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.
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