DOJ to Enter "Legal Struggle" With Universities Over Free Speech Says Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday that his Justice Department will enter the legal fight over free speech on college campuses, as he delivered a blistering speech at Georgetown University Law Center declaring freedom of thought and speech is “under attack.” 

“Starting today, the Department of Justice will do its part in this struggle. We will enforce federal law, defend free speech, and protect students’ free expression from whatever end of the political spectrum it may come,” Sessions told an audience of Georgetown students.

The speech marked the attorney general's entry into a raging national debate, largely over protesters effectively shutting down conservative speakers on American campuses. 

 

During his remarks at Georgetown’s Constitution Center, the Justice Department simultaneously filed a statement of interest in a free-speech case siding with students who said their rights were limited.

“We will be filing more in the weeks and months to come,” Sessions said. 

The case cited Tuesday was initially filed by students at Georgia Gwinnett College to challenge a policy limiting student expressive activity to two small “free-speech zones.” 

The Justice Department argued that the college’s speech policies were not content-neutral and were not “narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling government interest.”

“A national recommitment to free speech on campus and to ensuring First Amendment rights is long overdue,” Sessions said. 

Ahead of Sessions' address, a group of more than 30 Georgetown law professors signed onto a letter condemning what they called “the hypocrisy” of Sessions' appearance. They cited President Trump's ongoing feud with NFL players who kneel during the anthem and other complaints about Sessions' DOJ.