Monday, January 01, 2018

Still More Anti-Free-Speech-ism: Robert C. Post: "There Is No First Amendment Right To Speak On A College Campus"

   Just about everything of substance in there is wrong.
   And dude is a law prof at Yale!
   Not getting the new year off on the wrong not gonna spend a bunch of time on something that's not worth it. So, very briefly:
   It's true that professors have no legal obligation to allow just anyone to speak in their classes. It's also entirely irrelevant. I don't even have any idea what legal principle is operant in such cases, but you don't need to to see that it's irrelevant. It's probably just an ordinary time / place / manner restriction.
   Is there a First-Amendment right to speak on campus? Absolutely, and it's not even controversial. Whatever is protected speech off-campus is protected speech on campus--at public schools, anyway. Private schools are under less-stringent obligations. But you can say any damn thing you want on a public university campus--subject, of course, to the same exceptions as speech everywhere else: time, place and manner restrictions, no incitement, state secrets, etc. etc.
   Post is right that a university can stop having a formal / funded system of student invitations entirely. But I'll be all universities have such a system--and, if a university does have one, then it can't override students' decisions about whom to invite on the basis of the content of their speech.
   Furthermore, none of this prevents you from just walking onto campus and saying your piece, of course--though I suspect that Post is really talking bout the use of university buildings and suchlike.
   Post's master argument is utter sophistry. It goes like this: since universities are in the business of evaluating ideas, this purpose can/should govern everything they do. So they must always be permitted to turn down speakers on the basis of their judgments about that speaker's contribution to their aims.
   My God that's a shit argument. It isn't even in the vicinity of the truth. And it has nothing whatsoever to do with the First Amendment.


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