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Saturday, January 24, 2009

F.I.R.E. appeals to Obama to uphold 1st Amendment rights for students

The West Bend School District's harassment policies falls directly in line with this infringement of free speech for all students.

In an open letter to Obama on the occasion of his inauguration this week, The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education or FIRE, asked for his help in its battle "against college and university speech codes that are infringing on the rights of millions of our nation's college students."

"Millions of American students are being taught that colleges have the power to censor and punish speech that the Bill of Rights protects," said FIRE's president, Greg Lukianoff.

The group's letter stated, in part: "Failing to educate an entire generation about our constitutional ideals of liberty – and, still worse, actually teaching students that they have a duty to censor opinions with which they disagree – means that it will not be long before these illiberal attitudes result in severe consequences for our Republic."

The organization cited 10 federal court decisions "unequivocally striking down campus speech codes on First Amendment grounds from 1989 to 2008" but said the number of "unconstitutional restrictions on campus speech" actually has risen.

The group's 2009 survey of speech codes in academia, for example, found 77 percent of public colleges and universities maintain speech codes that violate the U.S. Constitution.

Worse yet are the actual examples of punishment for violating the codes, the organization said.

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