Last week, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Congressman Bob Goodlatte sent a follow-up letter to 33 public colleges and universities that failed to contact the Committee in response to a previous letter the Committee sent in mid-August of last year.
The Committee sent the original letter to 161 public colleges and universities that received FIRE’s lowest, “red light” rating based on our 2015 report on campus speech codes. Institutions that receive this rating maintain at least one policy that clearly and substantially restricts constitutionally protected speech.
In June of last year, the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice held a hearing titled “First Amendment Protections on Public College and University Campuses.” FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff testified at the hearing.
FIRE was delighted that Chairman Goodlatte followed up on the hearing by urging public institutions with red light policies to reform those policies. We were even more gratified when several of the institutions, including Tarleton State University and Alabama State University, reached out to us to work on reforming their speech codes. (A few of the institutions that received Chairman Goodlatte’s original letter, like Brooklyn College and and Washington State University, were already in contact with us about reforming their speech codes.)
In the letter sent last week, Congressman Goodlatte urged the remaining 33 institutions to respond no later than February 25.
FIRE is happy to see the House Judiciary Committee take the issue of free speech on campus seriously. We look forward to the responses and hope to see more institutions revise their speech codes as a result of the Committee’s leadership.