American University: Law Students Investigated for Disagreeing with Pro-Life Classmate
On May 25, 2022, American University Washington College of Law’s Title IX office launched a formal investigation into eight law students who expressed pro-choice views in a class GroupMe chat. The students disagreed about the leaked Dobbs v. Jackson decision with a Christian, pro-life classmate, who reported the exchange to AU, alleging religious discrimination. AU’s Title IX Office notified the eight students they were being formally investigated under AU’s “Discrimination and non-Title IX Sexual Harassment” policy. On June 24, FIRE publicly urged AU to drop the investigation, citing it as an affront to both AU’s free speech policies and common sense that viewpoint diversity and debate must be respected in a law school setting. On July 7, more than six weeks after launching its investigation, AU found Daniel Brezina — the student among the eight investigated with whom FIRE was in contact — not responsible for the charges. FIRE wrote to AU that same day urging it to bring its sexual harassment policies in line with its enumerated commitments to student expressive rights so future students are not investigated for their free expression.