Last week, FIRE announced the launch of our new Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project at a press conference where we revealed four federal lawsuits targeting campus speech codes. Through this new project, FIRE will continue to coordinate similar lawsuits until speech codes are eliminated from public college campuses.
FIRE is pleased that so many media outlets have covered the project’s launch. But in addition to the news coverage reporting on the project, I am thrilled that the editorial board of the Las Vegas Review-Journal recently ran an editorial urging my alma mater, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), to abandon its speech codes. (The Review-Journal actually ran another editorial last month urging UNLV to hire as its new president “a strong free-speech advocate to lead the university.”)
In this week’s editorial, the Review-Journal writes:
Despite a litany of court decisions upholding free speech, colleges and universities repeatedly place obviously unconstitutional restrictions on expression. FIRE has used public awareness to fight for free campus speech for 15 years, but [FIRE President Greg] Lukianoff says public awareness is not enough. The group has filed two other lawsuits in the past nine months, and he says lawsuits like the four it filed this week will continue “until campuses understand that time is finally up for unconstitutional speech codes in academia.”
Instead of facing a needless lawsuit, it would be far more productive for UNLV (and the University of Nevada, Reno, for that matter) to work immediately with FIRE to clean up its policies regarding the First Amendment. With UNLV currently searching for a new president, one great way to start the cleanup would be to hire someone who truly champions free speech.
I couldn’t have said it any better myself. As a UNLV alumnus and former Interim Legal Director of the ACLU of Nevada, nothing would make me happier than working with the new Runnin’ Rebels administration to eliminate UNLV’s speech codes, starting with its “red light” policies. As always, FIRE stands by ready to assist with the process of policy revision.