FIRE Co-founder and Chairman Emeritus Alan Charles Kors e-mailed the president of Virginia Tech last night to commend him on his school's decision to withdraw its ideological "diversity" requirements for promotion and tenure. Alan writes:
Dear President Steger,
You have intervened where it is most appropriate, to preserve and protect the most cherished of freedoms: freedom of conscience and belief. It is frightening that individuals, however well-intentioned, thought to coerce ideological uniformity, but it is a wonderful thing that you have done in the exercise of your responsibilities and obligations as the president of a free institution in a free society. As Justice Robert Jackson wrote for the Supreme Court of the United States in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette (1943), at the very height of WWII, no less, "If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us."
Administrators of public universities are, indeed, such "officials." They have those restrictions placed upon their powers, restrictions upon which all of our freedoms, across the entire political, ideological, and religious spectrum, depend. It should not require FIRE for leaders in higher education to be aware or reminded of that. You have done your duty, constitutionally and morally. Thank you, and please stay vigilant.
Alan Charles Kors
As always, we truly could not have said it better ourselves!