Search Results for ‘college speech’

Battles continue over lawyer speech codes, in both U.S. and Canada

As I noted last year, the American Bar Association in 2016 adopted as a recommendation its Model Rule 8.4 (g),

which makes it “professional misconduct” for an attorney to engage in “conduct,” including verbal “conduct,” that “the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law.” …

UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh has argued that the ABA rule’s scope “is broad and vague enough to potentially apply to a wide range of political speech, and thus violate the First Amendment.”

The rule would invite charges of professional misconduct against lawyers who express or circulate opinions, jokes, or graphics that they should have known would make a listener uncomfortable based on one or another protected class membership. It would apply in an extremely wide range of contexts “related to the practice of law”, as listed in these April comments:

Activities that seem to fall within the extremely broad scope of proposed Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(g) include:

* presenting CLE courses;
* participating in panel discussions that touch on controversial political, religious, and social viewpoints;
* teaching law school classes as faculty, adjunct faculty, or guest lecturers;
* writing law review articles, op-eds, blogposts, or tweets;
* giving media interviews;
* serving on the board of one’s religious congregation, K-12 school, or college;
* providing pro bono legal advice to nonprofits;
* serving at legal aid clinics;
* lobbying on various legal issues;
* testifying before a legislative body;
* writing comment letters to government agencies;
* sitting on the board of a fraternity or sorority;
* volunteering for political parties; and
* advocating through social justice organizations.

While some state codes of lawyer conduct already ban bias and harassment, these have generally been drafted much more narrowly. In Maine, for example, up to now the missteps have to have been committed “knowingly,” in the course of representing a client, and in a manner “prejudicial to the administration of justice” — all three important safeguards against overbreadth.

Model Rule 8.4 (g) has faced rough sledding around the states since it was proposed. According to these comments in October, “seven states have rejected the rule: Arizona, Illinois, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, South Carolina, and Tennessee have rejected the proposal. The Attorneys General of four states have concluded that adopting the rule would violate the First Amendment: Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Only Vermont has adopted the model rule in its entirety.”

As Vermont goes, so goes Maine: the Pine Tree State’s highest court has now adopted a version of the rule, although narrowed in several respects. In particular, the Maine version defines “the practice of law” in a less broad (though still quite broad) way that covers fewer purely social activities; it removes socioeconomic status and marital status from the list of protected classes; and it tries at least to define what sorts of speech it will deem to be bias or harassment. Its definition is still quite unclear in its contours, however, and far broader than the standard approved by the U.S. Supreme Court as to harassment law and speech liability in workplace and university settings.

Let’s hope other states don’t follow Maine’s example: even as narrowed, the rules curtail important rights.

In the mean time, however, there is heartening news from Ontario, Canada, where (as I reported last year) the Law Society had gone all in on rules that go much further than the ABA’s, requiring all lawyers on eventual pain of discipline to draft a personal Statement of Principles (SOP) avowing a dedication to principles of diversity, equality, and inclusion. The Society rejected a proposal “to create an exemption to the new mandatory Statement of Principles for persons who believe the requirement violates their freedom of conscience.”

But its membership revolted. Attorney Lisa Bildy and other SOP objectors led a campaign that, in a seeming miracle, elected 22 of its supporters to the 40 lawyer seats among the benchers (governors) at the Law Society. While the newly elected are not a majority because of the other seats on the body reserved for lay benchers and paralegals, the message was unmistakable (more on the campaign from Bruce PardyMurray KlippensteinTeng Rong, and Dylan McGuinty). Now, in the face of a determined campaign of abuse directed at the incoming benchers (sidelight), the Law Society of Ontario’s governing Convocation will meet June 27 to begin considering whether to repeal, render optional, otherwise change, or retain the Statement of Principles requirements.

The June 27 Law Society meeting, and what follows, deserve a close watch by all of us concerned about the rise of speech codes and forced expression in the professions.

[cross-posted from Cato at Liberty; earlier]

Campus speech roundup

  • At UCLA as elsewhere, pledges and obligatory statements about diversity threaten academic freedom [Robert Shibley, Minding the Campus, Paul Caron/TaxProf, Christian Schneider, New York Post, earlier]
  • 2019, 1673, whatever: By calling ourselves “inclusive,” Cambridge explains, we mean “there is no place here for” those who fail to accept key tenets of faith and morals [Robby Soave] He “had just chosen to move from Australia, the country where he earned his degrees and spent most of his career, to China. Why? Because, as a researcher, he has more freedom in China.” [Peggy Sastre, Quillette] Heresy hunts in American academia aren’t exactly new, consider what happened fifty years ago to once-lauded “culture of poverty” anthropologist Oscar Lewis [Bryan Caplan]
  • Remarkable glossary of terms “intended to structure and referee conversations on campus” circulates at Amherst College, whose Office of Diversity and Inclusion has a staff of 20, more than one for every hundred of the institution’s 1800 students [Rand Richards Cooper, Commonweal via Christina Sommers] University of Michigan has at least 82 full-time diversity officers at payroll cost of $10.6 million, a sum would cover full in-state tuition for 708 students [Mark Perry on Twitter] At the University of Texas, diversity-related staffers cost $9.5 million annually [Derek Draplin, College Fix]
  • Some conservatives do their bit to undermine academic freedom when they try to get professors fired for bad speech unrelated to teaching and scholarship [David French, Robby Soave]
  • Law schools debate whether to be even more ideological, although the product of the academy is supposed to be knowledge rather than activism [John McGinnis responding to Samuel Moyn] Outcry after Emory Law School suspends professor who had uttered racial slur in context of critically describing others as using the slur [Paul Caron/TaxProf, more]
  • Rhode Island student drummed out of state college for not advancing “value of social and economic justice” can take his case to a jury, rules state’s high court; Cato Institute had filed amicus brief on his behalf [Ilya Shapiro and Patrick Moran]

Cato survey: “The State of Free Speech and Tolerance in America”

I’m a bit late getting to this major survey from my colleague Emily Ekins and associates. Some highlights good and bad:

* By 71% to 28%, Americans lean toward the view that political correctness silences discussions society ought to have, rather than the view that it is a constructive way to reduce the giving of offense;

* Liberals are much more likely than conservatives to say that they feel comfortable saying things they believe without fear that others will take offense.

* By a 4-to-1 margin Americans consider hate speech morally unacceptable, while by (only) a 3-to-2 margin they do not want the government to ban it.

* “47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques,” notwithstanding the First Amendment’s protection of free exercise of religion.

* “51% of Democrats support a law that requires Americans use transgender people’s preferred gender pronouns,” also notwithstanding the First Amendment.

* Upwards of 80% of liberals deem it “hateful or offensive” to state that illegal immigrants should be deported or that women should not serve in military combat, with 36% and 47% of conservatives agreeing respectively. “39% of conservatives believe it’s hate speech to say the police are racist, only 17% of liberals agree.”

And much more: on college speaker invitations, microaggressions, whether executives should be fired over controversial views, media bias, forced cake-baking, and the ease of being friends across partisan lines, among many other topics.

Campus free speech roundup

Free speech roundup

  • “Keeping this case in a pending status gives us one hell of a club” — how Nixon used antitrust to intimidate media [Guy Rolnik, Stigler Center ProMarket] For ruthlessness in bullying hostile press, Nixon and LBJ had nothing on FDR and his New Dealers [David Beito]
  • In which I display impatience with Claremont Colleges student no-platformers who signed a letter defending speaker shout-downs and demanding that conservative student journalists be disciplined [Scott Greenfield, more from Heather Mac Donald, earlier on shout-down of Mac Donald] More: statement by FIRE president Greg Lukianoff on situation at UC Berkeley. And: the campus speech wars reach Hood College [my new Free State Notes post]
  • Three reasons, none of them flattering, why GOP lawmakers might sign onto wacky tollgate-for-adult-material scheme [Elizabeth Nolan Brown; Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny, Daily Beast with more on promoter Chris Sevier and so-called Human Trafficking Prevention Act]
  • American Legislative Exchange Council, conservative group of state legislators that has itself been a target of anti-speech campaigns, launches Center to Protect Free Speech with focus on campus speech, donor privacy and commercial speech;
  • Flemming Rose: “I’m Not Willing to Sacrifice Freedom of Expression on the Altar of Cultural Diversity” [Reason interview with Nick Gillespie]
  • “But is it not shocking that virtuous characters should be defamed?” replied the Baron. “Let their actions refute such libels,” continued the President. An anecdote of Jefferson and Humboldt [David Post]

Free speech roundup

  • “Utah poised to outlaw mentioning people’s names online with intent to ‘abuse’ or ‘harass’” [Eugene Volokh]
  • In win for Paul Alan Levy, Eugene Volokh & co., filer of fake R.I. lawsuits aimed at search engine takedown agrees to settle [Consumer Law & Policy, earlier]
  • Activists shut down speech at Ontario university by criminal defense lawyer who helped CBC radio host beat sex-assault rap [David Millard Haskell, Toronto Star; Wilfrid Laurier University, Brampton invitation to Danielle Robitaille] More: Richard Reeves and Dimitrios Halikias, Brookings on Middlebury case and the “bad news for free speech.” Related: [walks to window, closes blinds as if somehow to keep Christopher Hitchens from seeing what has happened to Slate]
  • North Carolina law prohibits released sex offenders from using Facebook, other social media. Consistent with First Amendment? [Packingham v. North Carolina at the Supreme Court: Cato amicus brief and Ilya Shapiro/Devin Watkins blog post, Federalist Society preview and oral argument podcasts, Issie Lapowsky/Wired]
  • Featuring Frank Buckley, Robert Corn-Revere, and Flemming Rose, John Samples moderating: “Cato Panel Discusses Free Speech, Media, and Trump” [Campaign Freedom] And while on the topic of libel laws: “TechDirt deserves a vigorous defense.” [Eric Turkewitz, earlier]
  • “Another Convicted Felon Tries To Use The DMCA Process To Erase DOJ Press Releases About His Criminal Acts” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt]

Free speech roundup

  • Those who want to protect American university life from mob intimidation, speak now or forever hold your peace [Conor Friedersdorf on Yale and Missouri incidents, Greg Lukianoff on Yale, Thom Lambert on Missouri; more on Missouri; John Samples/Cato] “Sorry, kids, the First Amendment does protect ‘hate speech'” [Michael McGough, L.A. Times]
  • #ExxonKnew folks, please listen: “engaging in scientific research and public advocacy shouldn’t be crimes in a free country. Using the criminal law to shame and encumber companies that do so is a dangerous arrogation of power.” [Bloomberg View editorial, earlier here, etc.]
  • Judge orders Facebook post taken down as campaign contribution improper under Colorado law; while target of enforcement was public charter school, logic of ruling could extend to entirely private entities as well [Megan Geuss, ArsTechnica]
  • Did anyone really not see this coming? Hate speech laws give authorities powerful weapon with which to crack down on speech by critics and minorities [Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Reason, on Kenya]
  • Cato amicus brief, Kentucky Court of Appeals: printers shouldn’t be forced to print gay-pride messages they don’t agree with [Ilya Shapiro/Cato, Eugene Volokh]
  • “That’s not harassing, stalking, libeling or cyber bullying. That’s called reporting.” Florida Man offers to help with online reputation management but digs himself and client in further [Tim Cushing, TechDirt, background]
  • Feminist lawprof we’ve met before attacks Internet-protecting Section 230, confusion ensues [Mike Masnick, TechDirt]

College and offense-screening: a message from the White House

In light of President Obama’s (quite admirable) recent comments on college as a place for the open exchange of ideas, could his administration call off its rules pressuring colleges to adopt unconstitutional speech codes? [Hans Bader, Glenn Reynolds, USA Today] “University of California considering recognizing a ‘right’ to be ‘free from … expressions of intolerance'” [Eugene Volokh; regents go back to drawing board; Sarah McLaughlin/FIRE; AAUP] “Deciding who is eligible to complain about microaggressions is itself an act by which the majority imposes its will.” [Megan McArdle] And the New Yorker contributes a politically correct “Lord of the Flies.”

School and college roundup

  • Far-reaching, legally dubious new mandate: 37-page “Dear Colleague” letter from Washington launches new “education equity initiative” directing local schools to ensure all children “equal access to educational resources” [R. Shep Melnick, Education Next and WSJ]
  • “‘Tag is not banned,’ [the school district] insisted.” [Fred Barbash, Washington Post; Lenore Skenazy; Mercer Island, Wash.]
  • University of Texas now blurs racial preferences into “holistic” admission review, Supreme Court should take look [Ilya Shapiro]
  • Feds vs. due process: Michigan State case goes well beyond itself-notorious OCR Dear Colleague letter [KC Johnson; related Hans Bader on Tufts and other cases] Emily Yoffe: not so fast on latest “one in five” study [Slate; more, Stuart Taylor Jr.] “You cannot build justice for women on injustice for men.” [powerful Wendy McElroy speech debating Jessica Valenti]
  • Trashing copies of a student paper to keep content from being read? 171 Wesleyan students/alums: “Go for it!” [Popehat, Scott Greenfield] “Editorial independence remains a huge priority for us” says the Wesleyan Argus editor. Doesn’t sound as if her adversaries see it that way [Robby Soave, Reason]
  • Robert Klitzman: Institutional Review Boards at research institutions could benefit from transparency and respect for precedent [via Zachary Schrag]
  • Donald Trump’s battle with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman over proprietary “Trump University” [Emma Brown, Washington Post]