by Countable | Updated on 3.22.19
What’s the story?
- President Donald Trump has signed an executive order meant to promote free speech on college campuses by threatening to withhold federal research and education funds if they fail to protect those rights.
"Today, I am proud to announce that I will be very soon signing an executive order requiring colleges and universities to support free speech if they want federal research funds," Trump said, adding that if schools don’t comply "it will be very costly."
What are people saying?
- Trump first announced his plans at the Conservative Political Action Conference in response to a rallying cry among conservative speakers who complain their First Amendment rights are being suppressed on campuses.
- "Under the guise of speech codes and safe spaces and trigger warnings, these universities have tried to restrict free thought, impose total conformity and shut down the voices of great young Americans ... all of that changes starting right now. We're dealing with billions and billions and billions of dollars," Trump said, surrounded by student activists at the White House signing ceremony.
"Every year the federal government provides educational institutions with more than $35 billion in research funding. All of that money is now at stake. That's a lot of money. They're going to have to not like your views a lot," Trump added.
- Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee, argued the move is a fix for a non-existent problem and he doesn't "want to see Congress or the President or the department of anything creating speech codes to define what you can say on campus."
"The U.S. Constitution guarantees free speech. Federal courts define and enforce it. The Department of Justice can weigh in. Conservatives don’t like it when judges try to write laws, and conservatives should not like it when legislators and agencies try to rewrite the Constitution," Alexander said.
- The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a group focused on freedom of speech and religion in academia, said they hope the order turns out to be “uncontroversial.”
- "FIRE will watch closely to see if today's action furthers the meaningful, lasting policy changes that FIRE has secured over two decades — or results in unintended consequences that threaten free expression and academic freedom," the group said in a statement.
"We note that the order does not specify how or by what standard federal agencies will ensure compliance, the order's most consequential component. FIRE has long opposed federal agency requirements that conflict with well-settled First Amendment jurisprudence. We will continue to do so."
What do you think?
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