Latest News and Commentary: National

June 9, 2022
By Brian Leiter
Leiter Reports: A Philosophy Blog

Excerpt: Many readers will be familiar with the case of Ilya Shapiro, a libertarian "kook" (that's a term of art!) formerly of the Cato Institute, who was supposed to assume a non-tenure-track position at Georgetown's law school, until he tweeted that the best liberal judge on the federal courts was Judge Srinivasan on the DC Circuit, and since Biden had promised to appoint only a Black woman to SCOTUS, therefore that meant the next Justice on the super-legislature would be a "lesser Black woman."

Is Ilya Shapiro a racist?  I don't know, but his Tweet doesn't reflect racism but ideological zealotry, of a particularly clueless kind.  I can see the case for firing clueless faculty, but it would also violate academic freedom, in most (not all) cases, to do so.


June 8, 2022
By PEN America Press Release

Excerpt: PEN America and the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) published a joint statement raising alarm about the recent spread of legislative restrictions on the freedom to learn and teach, calling attention to the grave threats these measures pose for shared governance, academic freedom, college and university accreditation, and the institutional autonomy enjoyed by colleges and universities nationwide.

June 8, 2022
By Laura Beltz
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

Excerpt: Students wishing to put up posters on campus at Lake Superior State University better choose their words carefully, as the public university’s posting policy threatens “disciplinary sanctioning” over material deemed “offensive, sexist, vulgar, discriminatory or suggestive.” The trouble with this policy is that anyone, for just about any reason, can claim that someone else’s speech is “offensive” or “suggestive.”

June 8, 2022
By Greg Lukianoff and Nico Perrino

Excerpt: On campus and increasingly beyond, labeling speech "hateful" makes those in authority feel empowered to shut it down. It should be no surprise, then, that the label is sometimes used frivolously to emotionally manipulate people into accepting unjustified exercises of power, including the punishment of the expression of ideas.

If you ask Americans, most will say they strongly support free speech protections. However, label the speech "hateful" and that support plummets, particularly among Democrats.

June 8, 2022
By Nick Gillespie
Reason Magazine Podcast

Excerpt: In the late 1970s, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) famously—and controversially—defended the right of neo-Nazis to march through the Chicago suburb of Skokie, Illinois, which was home to many Holocaust survivors. It was a defining moment for the group and for the idea that free speech, no matter how vile, must be guaranteed to everyone.

But if the ACLU is retreating, another free speech group is expanding to fill the void left behind. Founded in 1999 to combat speech codes on college campuses, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education—FIRE—has announced a new name and an expanded mission of defending free speech off-campus as well as on.

June 7, 2022
By Bart Pfankuch
Argus Leader

Excerpt: Jason Connelly is exactly the kind of young educator the South Dakota public school system would love to add to its depleted teacher workforce.

Connelly did his student teaching at Roosevelt High School in Sioux Falls, and said he “loved every second of it.” He was welcomed by teachers at Roosevelt and felt supported by the principal. The Augustana professor who oversaw Connelly’s student teaching tenure said he did a great job in the classroom and was loved by his students. And yet, Connelly recently told News Watch that “South Dakota is not on my radar for teaching positions.” Connelly is turned off by a new assault on public education in South Dakota — an increasing politicization of education, heightened criticism of what is taught and how, and the influence of the ongoing culture wars.

June 7, 2022
By Joe Killian and Lynn Bonner
NC Policywatch

Excerpt: This week House Bill 755, the so-called “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” is headed for one more procedural vote in the N.C. House and then to the desk of Gov. Roy Cooper.

Cooper, a Democrat, has signaled he will veto the bill. But some Democratic lawmakers say that would serve Republicans’ political purposes. The veto would let GOP candidates campaign on their opposition’s having killed a bill that would ban instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in Kindergarten through third grade.

June 7, 2022
By Eugene Volokh
The Volokh Conspiracy, Reason Magazine

Excerpt: Under the reasoning of the Georgetown University Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Affirmative Action (IDEAA) report in the Ilya Shapiro matter, a wide range of public speech criticizing religions, political parties, veterans, etc. could be "prohibit[ed] harassment."

June 6, 2022
By Josh Moody
Inside Higher Ed

Excerpt: Public higher education in Florida has come under fire in a variety of ways in recent years. The state Legislature has restricted the teaching of certain controversial topics, administered political litmus tests to faculty and subjected professors to additional posttenure scrutiny. Universities themselves have clamped down on faculty free speech to comply with state laws.

But documents show the worst may be yet to come. Recently uncovered draft legislation from Florida’s spring legislative session reveals plans to consolidate power in state boards run by Governor Ron DeSantis’s political appointees, to make colleges more reliant on money controlled by the state Legislature, to impose restrictions on what can be taught in Florida’s colleges and universities, and to strip university presidents of certain hiring powers.

June 6, 2022
By Miami Standard News Staff
Miami Standard

Excerpt: Gov. Ron DeSantis and his Republican allies are seeking more influence in university classrooms, targeting tenure, waging a battle against “politicized” courses and contemplating a significant change in how professors are hired across the state.

DeSantis says he is bringing accountability to higher education and ensuring universities aren’t indoctrinating students with what he and other GOP leaders see as a liberal bias. But the governor’s agenda is also prompting a backlash from the United Faculty of Florida, a union that represents more than 25,000 faculty members across the state.