Feds deny plan to implement mandatory college speech codes would violate Constitution

Plans to impose a mandatory 47-page speech code on campuses across the country would not violate students’ First Amendment rights, officials at the Department of Education's (DOE) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) argued in private email last Wednesday.

In a private email, federal officials denied that plans to impose a mandatory speech code would violate the United States Constitution.

The official sent the email to free speech advocacy organization the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) in response to its accusations that a joint Department of Justice (DOJ) and DOE plan to implement speech code “Blueprint for colleges and universities across the country” would lead to degradation of student’s rights to free speech.

“We have always maintained that the civil rights laws OCR enforces must be interpreted in ways that are consistent with constitutionally protected First Amendment rights,“ said the letter.

“Schools must formulate, interpret, and apply their rules in a manner that respects the legal rights of students and faculty, including the First Amendment,” continued the letter.

But FIRE President Greg Lukianoff responded to that clarification, calling “too little, too late.”

The CRO should “immediately issue a swift and detailed retraction and clarification to every college and university in the country," said Lukianoff in a statement last week.   

The policy “would render virtually every student and faculty member guilty of harassment," he continued. 

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