There is a building campaign at Harvard to rescind the degrees of Trump officials and allies including White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-TX). This is not the only such effort to retaliate against Trump officials from blacklists to campaigns of harassment. Indeed, previously there was a demand for a ban on former Trump officials from being allowed on campus at Harvard. Recently Rep. Elise Stefanik was removed from a high-ranking board on Harvard for challenging the victory of President-elect Joe Biden. The concern for some of us is that the Capitol riot is now being used by many to accelerate the crackdown on free speech on our campuses.
We recently discussed the decision of schools to stop using the gender-neutral term “alumni” to combat sexist language. That controversy came to mind yesterday when Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., altered the traditional ending of “amen” for a prayer before the House of Representatives. Instead, he ended with “Amen and awoman.” This minor controversy raises a broader point as we change or bar common terms that are not gender specific.
Montreal’s McGill University is the latest school facing an attack on free speech and academic freedom. We have followed efforts to fire professors who hold opposing views on police abuse or the Black Lives Matter organization. At McGill, eight student groups have gone further. They want to rescind the emeritus status of a retired professor to retroactively punish him for opposing their views. Professor Philip Carl Salzman is a well-known anthropologist with an impressive record of publications and recognitions. However, students are demanding the rare action to “protect and legitimize racist and Islamophobic dialogues.” They further declare in an open letter that free speech “does not exist outside of its social context” and that it has been shown to be “dictated by whiteness.” Continue reading ““Free Speech Does Not Exist Outside Of Its Social Context”: McGill Student Groups Seek To Strip Professor Of Emeritus Status”
The New York Times is under fire for its coverage of how an incoming Tennessee cheerleader was dumped from the team after the release of a three-second video in which she used a racial epithet. Times reporter Dan Levin gave a strikingly positive account of how Jimmy Galligan waited for years to release the video to do the most harm to Mimi Groves. The article “A Racial Slur, a Viral Video, and a Reckoning,” is being cited as the ultimate celebration of the cancel culture in its tenor and lack of balance. Everyone agrees that the use of the n-word was a terrible thing. However, the same standard does not seem to apply to professors who use racist and insensitive comments. It would seem that, even if students are not accorded the same protections for faculty, universities should offer them the same opportunity for redemptive change. After all, college is meant as place for personal growth for students.
We have been discussing student editors and student government leaders using their positions to retaliate against the exercise of free speech by other students with the support of faculty. This trend is hardly surprising as journalism deans call for censorship and journalism professors call for the rejection of neutrality in the media. Universities have generally remained passive as students and faculty harass and punish those with opposing views. The latest such example was detailed in a column on the site College Fix on how students at Cornell University moved to oust student representatives who voted against disarming and defunding campus police. What concerns me most is the silence of the university on the controversy.
We recently discussed how Trump critics appear to be adopting his tactics and rhetoric as they prepare to take over the Executive Branch and possibly Congress. There is a sense of “Trumpunity,” a license to use any means in the aftermath of the Trump Administration. Now, Harvard Law Professor and Bloomberg columnist has added a Trump-like call for the use of defamation lawsuit to combat “fake news.” That call for defamation actions to hammer media has been one of the most consistent and criticized Trump positions. The call for such media lawsuit is no less concerning when it comes from a liberal like Sunstein.
There is an interesting settlement settlement this week between the Department of Education and Temple University’s Fox School of Business and Management. Temple has long been accused of falsifying information to inflate its ranking on U.S. News and World Report. The USNWR rankings are now key to admissions for most schools and Temple has been accused of lying to both the magazine and its applicants for years. Continue reading “Temple University Reaches Settlement On Alleged Fraud Related To U.S. News And World Report Rankings”
We have repeatedly discussed how legal experts over the last four years have adopted ever expansive interpretations of statutory and constitutional provisions to argue that President Donald Trump could be indicted or impeached on a myriad of different grounds. This includes the reliance on interpretations long rejected by the Supreme Court. Some issues are manifestly closer like the long-standing question of presidential self-pardons. While I have long maintained (before the Trump Administration) that a president can self-pardon, I have always said that this is a question with good-faith arguments on both sides. Recently, however, experts have brought the same claims of clarity on this question to assure the public that the argument for self-pardons is “incoherent and incompatible” with the Constitution. Ken Gormley, president of Duquesne University, is one of those who supported impeachment and rejected any basis for self-pardons. He has now however gone one better and claimed that Joe Biden can “unpardon” Trump if he does grant himself a self-pardon.
“We did not belabor the point.” No words better capture the lack of intellectual and historical content of much of the cancel culture sweeping the nation. It was the response of Jeremiah Jeffries, the Chair of the San Francisco School Names Advisory Committee. The Committee has recommended the renaming of Abraham Lincoln High School as well as targeting the George Washington High School, Herbert Hoover Middle School and Paul Revere K-8. Even an elementary school named after Dianne Feinstein is being targeted. This is not the first such effort around the country that focused on Lincoln. We recently discussed the effort of University of Wisconsin college students to remove the prominent statue of Lincoln on campus as not sufficiently “pro black”and a single-handed symbol of white supremacy.”
This afternoon I have the pleasure of joining a distinguished panel to speak on the Supreme Court at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law. The event is part of the LACBA Business Law Section 2020 Virtual Institute for Corporate Counsel and will also include Michael J. Gerhardt of UNC School of Law and Pamela S. Karlan of Stanford Law School who testified with me during the Trump impeachment hearing. It will also include Beth S. Brinkmann of Covington & Burling LLP.
The long-awaited argument in Trump v. New York revealed a Court that seemed eager for an off-ramp rather than a merits ruling in the census dispute. Justices seemed skeptical of the Trump Administration’s interpretation of “persons” to exclude undocumented individuals while they also expressed skepticism that the Court needed to intervene at this stage. Notably, one of those expressing skepticism over the exclusionary interpretation was Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett. I have previously stated that I believe the Administration’s interpretation is at odds with the long-standing meaning of “persons” under the Constitution as including all individuals residing in the United States regardless of their status. Some of the justices balked at micromanaging communications between a president and a federal agency in prohibiting certain information from being transmitted. One thing however stood out in the argument: the use of the term “illegal alien” by various justices, including Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The term has been denounced in some states and various universities as a “microaggression.” Continue reading “The Census Case: Did The Court Reject Micromanagement But Embrace Microaggression?”
We have been discussing the call for blacklists and the campaign of harassment against Trump supporters, lawyers, and officials after the election. Now Harvard students are asking for the university to establish a preemptive bar on former Trump officials and consultants from entering the campus until they are reviewed and vetted. Rather than see universities as an opportunity for dialogue and understanding of our deep divisions, the students seem to be following the lead of Democratic leaders like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) who are calling for lists of anyone “complicit” with the Trump Administration. The students demand that any Trump officials be barred pending a review of their record to “hold them fully accountable for that complicity.”
We previously discussed the unrelenting drumbeat of censorship on the Internet from Democratic leaders, including President-elect Joe Biden. This growing campaign against free speech is continuing to grow despite the hearing yesterday when Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey that the company wrongly blocked the New York Post story on Hunter Biden’s influence peddling before the election. There was no acknowledgement from the many academics or politicians who supported the action by Twitter. Instead, Democratic senators called for more such censorship. Continue reading “Twitter CEO Admits Censoring The Hunter Biden Story Was “Wrong” . . . Democrats Call For More Censorship”
This week I criticized Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito for a speech that he gave to the Federalist Society. That should come as no surprise since I have spent two decades criticizing justices for such controversial public addresses. However, I was struck in the last couple days by the politicians like Sen. Elizabeth Warren and liberal faculty members who are falling over themselves in utter disgust with such public commentary from a sitting justice. For years, I criticized the far more egregious comments from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg without a peep of protest from people like Warren. Instead, Ginsburg became the “Notorious RBG.” There is, however, no place for a Notorious SAA in the media or academia.