Freedom of speech is guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. It should be revered on our college campuses. Sadly, that is where it is most at risk.
Young America’s Foundation (YAF) joined with U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan and U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack to create a Congressional Free Speech Caucus. In addition to drawing attention to the issue of cancel culture blocking the free speech rights of students on campus, we hope that the new caucus will help remove barriers to free speech at the federal level. Sadly, there are endless examples across the country of why the caucus is needed.
Internal emails obtained through YAF‘s Censorship Exposed project revealed how administrators at the University of Minnesota planned to cap attendance arbitrarily at 500 students (even pre-COVID) for a YAF-sponsored Ben Shapiro campus lecture. They also planned to move the event from the main campus in Minneapolis to a remote area campus — presumably to limit attendance and awareness. These same standards are not typically applied to other organizations.
YAF, in partnership with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), filed a First Amendment lawsuit against the University of Minnesota in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the speech policy and the active suppression of student speech. Oral arguments were heard before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit last month.
University of Minnesota officials attempted to stifle the free speech of conservative students on campus, solely in fear of how liberal students might react to hearing a new perspective. Government-run university administrators don’t get to pick and choose which viewpoints are welcome on campus. They should never cave to the mob. The First Amendment protects speech for all — and YAF will continue to hold accountable any schools in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer correctly noted that “Today’s college students are our future legislators, judges, and voters. That’s why it’s so important that public colleges model the First Amendment values they’re supposed to be teaching students. The University of Minnesota has allowed far-left speakers, including U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar to speak in the same hall it refused to Mr. Shapiro. Universities that pick and choose which voices can be heard on campus violate the First Amendment.” This is one of many free speech cases we are working on around the nation.