Sessions says DOJ will increase efforts to protect free speech on campuses


Speakers such as Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter, who regularly take provocative stances, have been prevented from speaking on campuses by protesters or by college administrators who say they are concerned about the potential for violence. Sessions said on Wednesday.

He condemed speech and civility codes imposed by college administrations and so-called "free speech" zones on university campuses. Elizabeth Warren from reading a letter by Coretta Scott King to oppose Sessions' nomination. "In the wake of #TakeTheKnee, I find it not only disingenuous but nearly laughable that Attorney General Sessions or anyone from this administration could truthfully speak as an authority on protections of free speech".

"There is a bias, I think personally, pretty clearly against conservative speech", Sessions added.

"The First Amendment is the law of the land on public campuses, but for decades colleges have been treating that fundamental right as though it's optional", FIRE Executive Director Robert Shibley said in a statement. A group of more than 30 Georgetown Law Center faculty members also condemned the "hypocrisy" of his speech.

"We've seen this in a number of cases where faculty will say something and they receive everything from death threats to harassment to emailed threats", said Rudy Fichtenbaum, president of the American Association of University Professors.

There can hardly be a less logical or more anti-intellectual reaction to a talk about free speech than to protest it under the guise of defending free speech.

Some of the roughly 100 protesters who gathered outside Georgetown's law school wore duct tape over their mouths. Protesters outside the event pointed out that they were not invited to the Attorney General's address. He responded that he respected everyone's views and their expression in an appropriate fashion, and again called on universities to "push back" against those who would seek to block speech.

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"We pay a ton of tuition", she said. No one needed counseling, ' Sessions snarked. You know the veto by the heckler who threatens to protest and disrupt the speech so the college may withdraw the speaker's invitation so they won't be a disturbance. It is the left that must defend and rationalize its objections to the free and open expression of ideas and the spirit and word of the Constitution's First Amendment. The students alleged that the college restricted their right to practice free speech.

"The American university was once the center of academic freedom - a place of robust debate, a forum for the competition of ideas", Mr. Sessions said as he spoke to students at Georgetown Law School in Washington.

"What about the football field?" host Abby Huntsman asked, referring to the hundreds of NFL players who had begun taking a knee or linking arms during the national anthem, in protest over police brutality against the black community.

The attorney general said his time talking to college students informed him on the issue, and the Department of Justice will intervene as necessary.

Those seats, according to organizers, wereonly for students affiliated with the Center for the Constitution, which is run by conservative professor Randy Barnett.

"We are committed to upholding the values of academic freedom and serving as a forum for the free exchange of ideas, even when those ideas may be hard, controversial or objectionable to some", spokeswoman Tanya Weinberg said.