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 How one delightful group sues commie universities for blocking free speech

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How one delightful group sues commie universities for blocking free speech Vide
PostSubject: How one delightful group sues commie universities for blocking free speech   How one delightful group sues commie universities for blocking free speech Icon_minitimeSat Jan 11, 2020 3:03 am

Speech First founder Nicole Neily talked to POLITICO about how her group takes on universities to challenge the policies that she argues chill free speech on campus.

Q&A WITH SPEECH FIRST FOUNDER: The less-than-two-year-old free speech advocacy group has filed four high-profile lawsuits, or “one each semester” as Neily puts it, to challenge university policies that she argues impede on students’ first amendment rights.
— Speech First has taken on large public universities including: University of Michigan, University of Texas, University of Illinois and, most recently, Iowa State.
— The group succeeded in reaching a settlement with the University of Michigan, the first lawsuit the group filed that argued the school was suppressing student speech with its policy that prohibits bullying and harassing behavior, and its Bias Response Team. The university was ordered to change its policies. DOJ also weighed in and filed a statement of interest on the group’s behalf.
Neily, who identifies as a “small L libertarian,” previously served as the president of the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, a nonprofit that runs watchdog.org news sites across the country. While there, she heard stories of universities stifling speech and decided it was a real problem she wanted to tackle.
This transcript has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: HOW DOES SPEECH FIRST WORK?
A: I think the deck is really stacked against students who want to fight back, and so we're structured as a membership association that files cases on behalf of our students. So, I get the hate mail instead of students getting hate mail, and it also means that we're able to maintain standing.
If it's an individual student challenging his or her school, the schools have honestly figured out that all they need to do is wait a student out. If the student graduates, transfers or is kicked out, the courts will say that the harm has gone away and the lawsuit is moot and it's thrown out. As long as I always have a member, my harm is ongoing so my cases can go on indefinitely.
Q: HOW OFTEN DO YOU RECEIVE INQUIRIES FROM STUDENTS ASKING FOR HELP?
A: Definitely after we file, we get a spike in people reaching out. But I also have parents who submit stuff, and professors. It's sad that there are so many people who feel that they have been chilled or discouraged. Some problems are like, “we have not been able to get our student group recognized,” and some of them are more serious. I am concerned about policies on the books. If a student is not talking about an issue because of credibly feared disciplinary repercussions, that’s a problem, particularly if it's a public university. That's something that I can get involved in.
Q: WHAT IMPACT HAS YOUR GROUP HAD ON FREE SPEECH ON CAMPUSES YOU HAVE SUED?
A: Two of them are still in active litigation. We actually just this morning got a date for our 7th Circuit arguments against University of Illinois. That is going to be Feb. 27. Our case against University of Texas is going to be heard or argued the week of March 2. We don't have an exact date yet.
In our case against Michigan, the Department of Justice filed a statement of interest and the school changed a bunch of their policies after the filing. Illinois has dropped at least one of their policies [the school got rid of the mandatory prior approval for passing out political fliers] after we filed notice. Texas, at the district court level, did not change policies. But we shouldn't need to get to litigation in the first place.
Q: HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE CLIMATE SURROUNDING FREE SPEECH ON CAMPUSES?
A: The window of acceptable discourse is pretty narrow, and it seems to be shifting kind of slowly, you know, further left, and that's no good for anybody. ... If you deviate from what the acceptable viewpoint is on campuses, which seem to be changing on a regular basis, you run the risk of being called out, of being dragged, being shunned. And, I mean, how many students go to campus when they're 18 with perfectly formed worldviews? Nobody. You're supposed to go there and be exposed to new ideas and meet each other and argue with each other and change your mind and maybe change somebody else's mind. ... If you can't ask a question about something that genuinely interests you. What is the point of going to college?

https://www.politico.com/newsletters/morning-education/2020/01/10/how-one-group-sues-universities-for-blocking-free-speech-784229
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