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Trump promises Executive Order requiring universities “to support free speech if they want federal research dollars”

Trump promises Executive Order requiring universities “to support free speech if they want federal research dollars”

It’s not clear what such an Order would require, how it would work, or if it would withstand legal challenges — but breaking the repression of non-liberal speech on campuses is a worthy goal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5AejBROtW4&t=278s

During his long speech at the CPAC conference on Saturday, March 2, 2019, Donald Trump promised to sign an Executive Order requiring that all universities and college that receive federal funds to protect free speech.

“I will be signing an executive order requiring colleges and universities to support free speech if they want federal research dollars”

The line got a good round of applause, but the applause was nothing compared to the shock such an Executive Order would be to the liberal dominance of campus life.

We have hundreds if not thousands of posts over the past 10 years devoted to the shut down of campus speech for conservatives. That shut down comes in many forms, most of which related one way or another to identity politics and social justice warfare. The many examples of non-liberal speakers being shouted down and attacked get the headlines because there is video. Attacks on “microaggressions” are humorous, so they get some mocking coverage.

But the silencing of alternative voices on campus comes through more systemic and pernicious methods and ideologies.

The concept of “inclusiveness” which has become a quasi-religion on campuses is seemingly benign, but it can become a passive aggressive means of shutting down dissenting voices when the feelings of listeners take priority. Perceived slights become a ground to silence dissent, because the dissent allegedly creates a non-inclusive environment. Add to it identity politics, where policy disagreement is labeled racist or another -ist or -ism, and you have the silencing of non-liberal views.

There is a culture of intolerance of right-of-center views that can be hard to measure, but nonetheless is real.

We will need to see that such an Executive Order encompasses. There may be a reason he mentioned “research dollars.” There will be a fight over whether Trump can impose conditions on federal funding of higher education through an Executive Order rather than through legislation or agency rulemaking. It may be that a president has more power over research funding and that is why he mentioned it that way.

Regardless, the possibility of the federal government mandating the protection of free speech is an earthquake that is sure to garner a lot of liberal opposition.

The Chronicle of Higher Ed writes:

The announcement was red meat for an audience that has traditionally been among the president’s fiercest supporters. And it’s likely to appeal to conservative lawmakers who have increasingly sought to intervene in campus matters, particularly after free-speech skirmishes break out.

The Pew Research Center found last year that 79 percent of Republicans said they were unhappy with professors injecting their political and social opinions into class discussions, and 75 percent said colleges were too worried about protecting students from views that might offend them.

Before making the announcement, President Trump brought to the stage a conservative activist who was punched in the face last month at the University of California at Berkeley.

The activist, Hayden Williams, had been helping the university’s chapter of the conservative group Turning Point USA.

Williams told the crowd that students like himself face “discrimination, harassment, and worse if they dare to speak up on campus.”

The NY Times noted the pushback already developing:

Floyd Abrams, a leading First Amendment lawyer, expressed concern about the president’s proposed executive order.

“The visage of the most congenitally anti-free-speech administration in American history making a series of decisions as to which campus conduct is pro- or anti-free speech is more than alarming,” Mr. Abrams said in an email Saturday afternoon.

Inside Higher Ed reports on additional pushback:

Terry Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education, in an interview shortly after President Trump’s speech, called the proposed executive order “a solution in search of a problem.” He said that is because “free speech and academic freedom are core values of research universities.”

While “controversies do arise,” Hartle said that the norm is for universities to err on the side of promoting free speech. He asked how some federal agency in the future would try to enforce the executive order by determining whether a college had done enough to promote free speech. He predicted that an executive order would lead people to try to create free speech incidents just to create controversy.

And Hartle said that federal law gives religious institutions broad discretion about campus activities. “Would religious institutions be required to have speakers whose views were antithetical to the college?” Hartle asked. “Would Yeshiva University be required to host a Holocaust denier?

Hartle also noted the lack of consistency of the Trump administration about free speech.

“As always in the current environment, irony does come into play. this is an administration that stifles the views of its own research scientists if they are counter to the political views of the administration, such as on climate change. And the president vigorously attacks people like Colin Kaepernick, who exercise their free speech rights.”

Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, said via email: “Public research universities have a First Amendment constitutional obligation to protect free speech. It is an obligation they take very seriously and work hard to protect. Our campuses serve as important forums for the debate of diverse ideas. An executive order is unnecessary as public research universities are already bound by the First Amendment, which they deeply respect and honor.  It is core to their academic mission.”

The legal obligation to protect free speech even on public university campuses is not always met, and now rather than an individual student or group having to sue, there would be the more immediate and substantial threat of loss of funding.

I’m not sure how this would work in practical terms, but ending the explicit and implicit silencing of conservative voices and ideas on campus is a move in the right direction.

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Comments

The counterattack is obvious—Trump Supports Hate Speech on Campus!!!

“It’s not clear what such an Order would require, how it would work, or if it would withstand legal challenges…”

You know, it’s also unclear why universities that are abridging free speech aren’t facing legal challenges. Does it only work in one direction?

    Milhouse in reply to franuche. | March 2, 2019 at 9:56 pm

    Public universities do face legal challenges. The main problem is with private universities, which have no legal requirement to respect the freedom of speech. Trump would be imposing such a requirement on them as a condition of receiving these funds, and the question is whether he can do that by mere executive order, or needs De Vos to issue a “Dear Colleague” letter. Which she can do, no problem.

      Control federal student loans and you control private universities.

        Most universities are nonprofit. Their nonprofit status can be put in jeopardy if they violate federal regs – like mandates of free speech.

        Milwaukee in reply to TheFineReport.com. | March 3, 2019 at 1:40 am

        “Control federal student loans and you control private universities.”

        This is a key. Much of the problem on campus is from majors which have room to protest, and professors who have too much time on their hands.

        My solution: a little long way about, but,

        Tie the privilege of getting student loans at X university, to the success of previous students with similar studies who are successfully paying their loans off. Engineering students, actuaries, statisticians, mathematicians, nurses, no problemo. Modern dance, gender studies, education, yes, there will be a problem. If a department is large enough to identify the department, then sanctions on the department. If the departments are too small for reasonable sample size, go with the college, such as College of Education, or College of Liberal Arts. The school loses the right to make those students Federal Loan eligible.

          Milwaukee in reply to Milwaukee. | March 3, 2019 at 1:44 am

          The Mathematics Department where I received a Masters with a project on quaternions, was a racket. They admitted many marginal students, not to be Teaching Assistants, but to fill the graduate classes and give the Math professors jobs. They appeared to care little about students actually getting a Masters.

          Schools, and colleges of Education, will be in trouble. Yes, there is a teacher shortage, but the problem is not obvious. There are plenty of people getting teacher certifications. The problem is the nonsense which passes for education in modern American schools. People with sensibilities quickly wise up and leave. Turn over among teachers with less the 5 years experience is very high. So, recruit new teachers, fresh out college. Put them in the grinder.

          JusticeDelivered in reply to Milwaukee. | March 3, 2019 at 7:29 am

          You have hit on an important point, namely that universities are busy creating useless majors, solely for the purpose of having people in college who could not otherwise pass. If they cannot find enough people to meet their quotas who are sharp enough to do the work, then they dumb down the work.

          How much of that is related to keeping money flowing from Pell Grants?

          This is a big problem for business, they hire someone with a degree, expecting that the person to be qualified, then they are not buy a staggering margin. If they are in a protected class, they are hard to get rid of.

          healthguyfsu in reply to Milwaukee. | March 3, 2019 at 11:09 am

          Wouldn’t work. You don’t have to declare your major before entering college.

        There’s no question that this can be done. That doesn’t mean it can be done by executive order.

      puhiawa in reply to Milhouse. | March 2, 2019 at 10:52 pm

      A agree with your “Dear Colleague” letter premise. I suspect that many recipients plotted with the previous administration to create such letters. However a storm will arise with something they mysteriously object to.

Oregon Mike | March 2, 2019 at 9:19 pm

Honestly, what is with Floyd Abrams these days? Has he drunk the TDS Kool-Aid?

    Abrams’ daughter is an Obama-appointed U.S. District Court judge (SDNY) whose husband, Greg Andres, is part of Robert Mueller’s team.

It’s not clear what such an Order would require, how it would work, or if it would withstand legal challenges

True enough, but somebody has to stake out the battlefield and fire a shot across the enemy’s bows. The shot need not be a bullseye, or even carefully aimed. But it does need to be fired. Just as with his announced fight against the socialist revolution, DJT has just done that.

And it’s about goddam time somebody in government did.

If he can put some teeth in it by putting the squeeze on their wallets, well good, that’s a decent start. If not, he’ll have to come up with something else. But at least the word is now out—”business as usual” is no longer good enough.

Don’t stop at research dollars… prohibit any government-guaranteed student loan from being used at any institution that doesn’t support free speech.

    Milhouse in reply to Paul. | March 2, 2019 at 10:00 pm

    Yep, Grove City v Bell. But that might require legislation, or at least an official agency rule, which takes time and can be challenged.

    Milwaukee in reply to Paul. | March 3, 2019 at 1:48 am

    Too much work to define free speech, hate speech, and all that stuff. The nonsense is coming from idiots. Idiots teaching studies majors to children who may or may not graduate but will end up with huge student loans. See Milwaukee above: schools which have too many students not paying their loans get restricted loan privileges: eventually no one will be allowed to get a student loan to student Women’s Studies. Those professors lose their jobs and go away. Those students go away, to find old people wearing MAGA hats they can attack, so the idiot can go to jail.

    Why aren’t there any Make Texas Great Again hats?

    Texas was never not great.

      Barry in reply to Milwaukee. | March 3, 2019 at 9:49 am

      Texas was never not great.

      I love Texas.

      “Beto” received 48.3% of the vote, Cruz barely won. What was will not always be without a lot of effort. The progs will win if you don’t stand up to them.

      Milhouse in reply to Milwaukee. | March 3, 2019 at 10:23 pm

      Too much work to define free speech, hate speech, and all that stuff.

      It’s no work at all to define free speech. Just define it by reference to the first amendment. Free speech is whatever would be protected at a government school.

      There’s no need to define “hate speech” because US law knows of no such concept.

      I don’t think there’s any other “stuff” that needs defining.

This is what Winning! looks like.

JusticeDelivered | March 2, 2019 at 10:24 pm

This is a promising development. But, many other pressure points need to be developed to effect real change.

This was always the Title IX hammer. Should be interesting. Liberals don’t like their hammers turned around.

    SDN in reply to puhiawa. | March 3, 2019 at 2:01 am

    See my comment below; since the Obamacare decision, that hammer has probably been ineffective, but it provided a dandy shield to Leftist college admins who wanted to ban free speech anyway.

Another Voice | March 3, 2019 at 12:15 am

“Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, said via email: “Public research universities have a First Amendment constitutional obligation to protect free speech. etc. etc….An executive order is unnecessary as public research universities are already bound by the First Amendment.”

Perhaps this is a conversation Mr. McPherson should have with the Presidents of the Universities and their trustees boards because they obviously haven’t received your message as they have failed the conservative students who have been shut down and shut out from voicing opposing views to the SJW crowd who get a free ride with their obnoxious protests.

    Milwaukee in reply to Another Voice. | March 3, 2019 at 1:53 am

    Public research universities have an obligation to train students who will become contributing members of society. A department or college which has too many defaulting on their loans loses the right to issue loans.

    My college experience started at the Colorado School of Mines. They had 10 degree programs, all from Bachelor to Masters to Doctorate. Get a degree: a Bachelor of Science, Geological Engineering, Chemical Engineering, or Chemistry, or Geophysical Engineering, or Mathematics, or whatever, and you would be able to get a job to pay your loans. The Colorado School of Mines was founded by the Territorial Legislature because Colorado was a mining state, and they needed mineral engineers.

    I think the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee offers a degree in Modern Dance. Think they pay off their loans?

“The visage of the most congenitally anti-free-speech administration in American history making a series of decisions as to which campus conduct is pro- or anti-free speech is more than alarming,” Mr. Abrams said in an email Saturday afternoon.

Obama is still in office?

As much as I like the idea, there’s a huge SCOTUS ruling to get past first.

One of the mostly ignored sections of the Obamacare decision dealt with Obama attempting to convince states to build Obamacare exchanges by tying their receiving the increased Medicaid / Medicare funding promised to the state building and maintaining an exchange.

Several states, notably Texas, took a look at that and realized that they would have to automatically match that increased funding with lots of state dollars both now and in the future and said “Oh Hell No!”

At that point, Obama declared that this meant he could withhold ALL of that funding, so when the states challenged the law, that was part of it.

Roberts’ ruling said that would amount to an ex post facto law; Obama could withhold the extra funding offered in trade for the exchanges, but he would have to continue sending current funding levels. I’m afraid that decision would be used to claim that Trump can’t withhold current levels of college funding.

    Milhouse in reply to SDN. | March 3, 2019 at 2:14 am

    No. That was specifically about states, and the fact that even Congress itself cannot compel them to waive their constitutional rights and cooperate with federal policy. This is the anti-commandeering doctrine, which is based on the 10th amendment.

    This is the exact same reason why cutting existing funding to sanctuary cities and states is unconstitutional, unless the cuts are (1) made by Congress, not the Attorney General, (2) made by Congress with unambiguous language, and (3) small enough that they merely persuade, not compel, i.e. the recipients can afford to decline the funding and continue their defiance.

    Private colleges, however, have no such 10th amendment right. So the anti-commandeering doctrine is irrelevant, and so’s the 0bamacare decision.

      SDN in reply to Milhouse. | March 4, 2019 at 12:51 am

      Private colleges, no. Colleges run by state governments (such as University of Texas or Berkely), yes.

        Milhouse in reply to SDN. | March 4, 2019 at 12:42 pm

        Yes, but the major problem is not at state colleges, precisely because they can be and are regularly sued when they pull this crap. Sooner or later they learn to behave themselves. The major problem is at private colleges, which are legally entitled to suppress speech that would be protected at state colleges.

        Milhouse in reply to SDN. | March 4, 2019 at 12:51 pm

        Oops, I ended that reply too early. Trump’s objective here is to make private colleges obey the laws that state colleges already have to obey. He’s not trying to impose a standard beyond the first amendment. So the anti-commandeering doctrine does not come into play in either case.

        If he were trying to go beyond that, then he’d be in the same place he’s in on sanctuary cities/states. His attempt to deny them DOJ grants without explicit statutory language is illegal. He cannot cut existing funding to make them cooperate with ICE. Congress can do so, but only if the cuts are small enough to leave them with a real choice, and even then it must make the condition explicitly. The grants in question are indeed small enough for this, so Congress could act, but it hasn’t.

VaGentleman | March 3, 2019 at 8:31 am

He asked how some federal agency in the future would try to enforce the executive order by determining whether a college had done enough to promote free speech.

That shouldn’t be a problem. Just use the same standards the left uses with the 2nd Amendment.

Getting the Demoncrats on the record against Free Speech and for Socialism is a great campaign plan for 2020!

That’s the spirit professor. Fight the battle though the legal pathway may be in doubt. Fight the law itself if you must! Sometimes justice has to be loud and relentless to overwhelm legal blockades established by a calcified and corrupt legal system.

We will never regain our liberties by simply hiring lawyers and hoping “ours” are smarter and more clever than “theirs” in the debate game. The legal system has drifted too far afield to undo the damage in time to save our constitution.

It’s time to ride the passions of the majority who elected Trump. Overwhelm the blockades of twisted legal logic by clearly articulating the justice. Americans can read the constitution and understand it without a law degree. It’s those with law degrees who have obscured the path to justice to the point that we have lost faith that our legal system can produce justice.

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