Department of Education on Federal ‘Blueprint’ Letter: Silence

May 20, 2013

Since the Departments of Education and Justice sent out their letter outlining a new, censorship-laden "blueprint" for campus sexual harassment policies on May 9, free speech advocates, commentators, and news outlets have strongly and swiftly voiced their objections and concerns and explained why the letter’s mandates are unconstitutional. But not everyone is jumping into the debate—for instance, the Department of Education itself. In an article covering responses to the letter, the Washington Free Beacon reported its experience with the Department of Education last week: The Washington Free Beacon asked the DOE for comment. They responded, asking for guidance as to where the word "speech" appeared in their letter to the university. The Free Beacon referred them to the page of their letter that now defined sexual harassment to include "verbal conduct." After that email exchange, they did not respond to further requests for comment.  The Washington Free Beacon should certainly not take this personally. FIRE and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) have previously written several times to the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, and we’ve received no answer—for more than two years.  So readers, please do us a favor and write to the Departments of Education and Justice about this important matter—and of course, let us know if they respond. Maybe you’ll be the first to hear back from these public servants!

Cases:  Departments of Education and Justice: National “Blueprint” for Unconstitutional Speech Codes