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American University Investigating Students Who Criticized SCOTUS Abortion Leak During Private Chat

American University Investigating Students Who Criticized SCOTUS Abortion Leak During Private Chat

“I can’t believe American is investigating us for having a frank discussion about abortion access”

This is so absurd. Luckily, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has taken an interest.

From the FIRE blog:

American University launches bogus harassment investigation into students who criticized leaked Supreme Court abortion ruling in private group chat

Eight law students at American University are under investigation for participating in a heated back-and-forth following the leak of the Dobbs v. Jackson draft opinion, after another student said their pro-choice commentary harassed and discriminated against him based on his religious, pro-life beliefs.

American’s disciplinary investigation stems from a class group chat in which the accused students discussed the ramifications of Justice Alito’s draft majority opinion overruling Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

“This is absurd. There’s nothing even approaching harassment or discrimination in the chat,” said Alex Morey, an attorney at the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression. “American cannot let its process for investigating actual discrimination and harassment be weaponized to investigate students’ opinions, but that’s exactly what’s happening here.”

On May 2, in their class section’s GroupMe chat, students criticized the leaked Supreme Court opinion and discussed options to protest and donate money to abortion advocacy groups.

One student, who later filed the harassment complaint, wrote that, “as a Republican, I find it insulting that conservatives would be thought of as overturning people’s civil rights…”

Another student responded with: “Can we shut the fuck up about personal opinions while people process this?”

The self-identified conservative student later wrote:

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and you all are more than welcome to protest. I find it interesting how the call to silence our personal opinions happens after I defended my deeply-held religious beliefs and yet nobody has mentioned that same sentiment about the pro-abortion posts. I was raised to stand up for my values, so baseless claims that abortion bans are “class warfare” is deeply offensive to both me and my Greek Orthodox faith.

The other students didn’t mention the complainant’s faith, and continued discussing protests and blaming conservatives for the impending Roe v. Wade reversal.

The eight accused students received a notice from American’s Office of Equity & Title IX on May 25 saying they were under investigation for “harassing and threatening messages” that “unreasonably interfered with [the complainant’s] educational experience.”

Daniel Brezina, one of the accused law students, said the investigation has made students like him fearful of discussing anything remotely controversial.

“I can’t believe American is investigating us for having a frank discussion about abortion access,” Brezina said. “This is going to have a massive chilling effect on honest discussions at the school. What good could possibly come of that?”

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Comments

The headline is wrong. The students did not criticize the leak; on the contrary, they criticized the leaked decision.

If FIRE says there was no harassment on the chat I’d like to believe them, but depending on what else was said, telling the pro-life student to “shut the fuck up about [his] personal opinions”, while all the anti-life students are going on and on about their personal opinions is certainly hostile and could be part of a harassment claim.

If they were claiming abortion bans are “class warfare”, and thus accusing anyone who supports them, including him, of engaging in class warfare, and then denying him the right to challenge them, again, that could be part of harassment.

One statement, however hostile, can’t be harassment in the ordinary sense, but if the university’s policy says otherwise, and especially if they’ve enforced that policy on conservative students, then it seems to be fair enough to demand that it be enforced with the same severity on “progressive” ones. Indeed it’s a pleasant surprise that they did take his complaint seriously and didn’t just tell him that the accused students were right and he should shut up.

henrybowman | June 26, 2022 at 2:43 am

Yeah, I’m not following this either. It sounds like you’re saying that the university is dinging the liberal bullies for bullying the lone conservative, and FIRE is taking on the case of defending the bullies.

To channel the Superman movie promo, “You Will Believe A Pig Can Fly.” It’s within the realm of possibility, but incredibly improbable.

    Milhouse in reply to henrybowman. | June 26, 2022 at 11:38 am

    Remember, FIRE is not a conservative organization. It’s primarily a liberal organization, of actual liberals who remember what liberalism is supposed to be all about. Which means nowadays they mostly defend conservatives, but that’s not their natural inclination.