Sessions to wade into divisive campus free speech debate

Violet Tucker
September 27, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said freedom of speech is under attack by political correctness on US campuses during remarks he made Tuesday at Georgetown Law school in Washington, D.C.

The event is scheduled for noon on Tuesday and is open to the media.

Law students and faculty demonstrate at Georgetown University on September 26, 2017, before U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session gives a talk about free speech on college campuses. However, the Center later claimed that seats for the event would only go to students who'd attended past Center for the Constitution events, or who were enrolled in one of the classes taught by the Center's director, Randy Barnett.

"People have a right to register their opinions, to protest, to criticize in any number of ways", Sessions said.

Some of the demonstrators held signs declaring that "free speech is not hate speech" and that "Sessions is afraid of questions".

"The American university was once the center of academic freedom, a place of robust debate - a forum for the competition of ideas", Sessions said. "We hope in the future that AG Sessions will be fearless enough to engage in the robust debate that he claims to value".

"The president has free speech rights too", Sessions said.

"Someone shared the general form [to sign up], which had no restrictions beyond having to be a student", says Daniel Blauser, a third year law student at Georgetown and the president of the Georgetown Law American Constitution Society.

Sessions said he agrees with Trump in opposing the protests. "The players aren't subject to any prosecution, but if they take a provocative act they can expect to be condemned".

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Several students said they would have liked to have had the opportunity to ask questions about administration policies - especially about the topic of free speech.

"When the debaters attempted to move to a private broadcasting location, the protestors-many in masks, a common tactic also used by the detestable Ku Klux Klan - pulled fire alarms, surrounded the speakers, and began physically assaulting them", he said.

"Similarly, it affords the right to members of our community to share their own views and objections about an invited speaker, and to protest peacefully in a manner that does not interfere with the invited speaker's right to speak, the audience's right to listen, and the safety and security of our campus".

In prepared remarks, Sessions complained that protesters are silencing speakers, and said the department plans to file a brief in a college free speech case this week.

"Not a contradiction there", Sessions said. They cited President Trump's ongoing feud with National Football League players who kneel during the anthem and other complaints about Sessions' DOJ.

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.

According to CNN, Sessions plans to discuss how universities are "transforming into an echo chamber of political correctness and homogenous thought, a shelter for fragile egos", according to a person familiar with the event. "We want people to understand what the First Amendment means".

Outside the speech, the large group of students and law professors, many clad in "Black Lives Matter" shirts, joined to "take a knee" in protest of Sessions. Both policies, she said, are in line with university policy "given limited capacity".

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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