This week I testified in the Senate about the erosion of free speech and academic freedom in our universities where professors are being punished or even fired for expressing viewpoints that challenge a new orthodoxy on our campuses, particularly with regard to racial and political issues. The latest example can be found this week at the University of Pittsburgh, which has removed Associate Professor of Medicine Norman Wang was removed from his position as Program Director of the Electrophysiology Fellowship. The removal was in direct response to Wang publishing an article in a peer-reviewed journal that questioned the use of affirmative action in medical schools admissions. The action raises serious concerns over both free speech and academic freedom. The only thing more unsettling than the actions of the university was the relative silence of his colleagues throughout the University of Pittsburgh as he was punished for expressing his academic views.
For many years, I have written columns denouncing faith-based politics of both Republican and Democratic Presidents. None however have gone quite as far as President Donald Trump yesterday when he declared that Joe Biden is “against God.” It sounds a bit like a constructive divine endorsement. It is certainly the ultimate expression of the faith-based politics that I have long opposed. Continue reading “Got God? Trump Claims Biden Opposes The Almighty”
Another professor is under fire for a tweet this week. In a now-deleted post on Twitter, Auburn University professor Jesse Goldberg declared “f*ck every cop. Every single one.” He then added, “the only ethical choice for any cop to make at this point is to refuse to do their job and quit.” The university is reportedly considering actions against Goldberg. As will likely come as no surprise to many on this blog, I do not agree that Goldberg should be subject to termination for the tweet which was the expression of his social and political views outside of the classroom. As I stated in my testimony in the Senate this week, faculty across the country are being subjected to campaigns for their termination due to controversial statements on the current protests and their underlying causes. While most of these cases involve professors who question the Black Lives Matter organizations or claims of systemic racism, it does not matter from a free speech perspective.
Today I am testifying in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution on the anti-free-speech movement in the United States. The hearing is entitled “The Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble: Protecting Speech by Stopping Anarchist Violence.” The hearing will be held at 2:30 in the Dirksen Senate Office Building and will be broadcast on C-Span and available on the Internet through the Committee. My testimony is below.
According to police, Douglas Marks, 29, has a curious method for reinforcing social distancing. After he spotted people without masks, he allegedly fired “four warning shots” at the Crystal Beach Suites Hotel. The criminal charges contained one interesting element. While Marks did not reportedly aim at anyone, he was still charged with assault. This follows an incident in California where a woman maced a couple who was eating with their child at a park without masks.
We previously discussed a conspiracy theory from Vice President Joe Biden that President Donald Trump could unilaterally cancel or delay the election day. We then dealt with a baffling statement by Jared Kushner that it was too soon to tell if the election day would be delayed — a statement that was as politically unwise as it was legally unsound. Now, President Donald Trump is fueling this controversy with a bizarre tweet that we may need to delay the election day. He is not suggesting that he can do it unilaterally, but it is another statement at odds with the constitutional and statutory foundation for the election day schedule. Even if Congress agreed to a different day, it would only move voting a few weeks later. Anything more would require pulling up our controlling law root and branch. Continue reading ““Delay the Election”: Trump Fuels New Questions Over The Holding Of The Presidential Election”
For many years, we have discussed disciplinary actions taken against teachers for social media postings. As a free speech blog, the trend has been alarming as teachers are fired for taking dissenting or controversial views. Now, an incoming Winthrop University Professor, April Mustian, is openly threatening K-12 teachers that they are being watched for any “rhetoric” deemed pro-police or antiBlack. A conservative group has objected to the now deleted Facebook posting from April 26th. This is a small such controversy but it is not isolated. It is indicative of thousands of such postings against free speech from academics across the country. This threatening posting was notable because it reflects a conscious effort to intimidate other teachers in their exercise of free speech. The whole purpose is to chill free speech by threatening their jobs and livelihood if they dare to voice opposing views. This latest controversy highlights the unresolved question of what speech rights teachers still have in participating in the national debate over police abuse and systemic racism.
Police allege that Schinzing was part of a group of 30 protesters who broke into the building and trashed the building while starting fires. The surveillance camera however captured both his image and his ink job.
Below is my column in The Hill on the recent disclosure of a document showing that the FBI used an agent to gather information for Crossfire Hurricane during campaign briefings of Trump during 2016. The document directly contradicted the long-standing denial that the investigation to Russian collusion was ever used to gather intelligence on Trump or his campaign. At the same time, the credibility of the Steele Dossier was further undermined this weekend with the release of new information that Steele misrepresented the sources and information used as the basis for this report, which was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The source for the most alarming allegations was revealed as Igor Danchenko, 42, as confirmed to The New York Times, He was not the “Russian-based” source claimed by Steele and the FBI learned that Steele took third-hard rumors and presented them as hard intelligence in the report used to help justify the Russian collusion investigation. This source was used in the last two renewal applications to the FISA court as a “truthful and cooperative” and “Russian-based,” according to the Justice Department Inspector General report found. So it turns out that the primary “source” of Steele’s dossier was “not a well-connected current or former Russian official, but a non-Russian-based contract employee of Steele’s firm.”
None of this has made any difference to the coverage. On ABC Sunday, George Stephanopoulos had Chris Christie as a guest but his involvement in the very meeting discussed in the document did not merit a single question from the host. In the meantime, Democratic leaders, who once mocked the idea of any investigation of Trump or targeting of the campaign, now say that it really doesn’t matter. Rep. Eric Swalwell says that it was actually “the right thing to do.”
Like many, I have criticized Speaker Nancy Pelosi for calling federal officers in places like Portland “stormtroopers.” It is highly offensive on a myriad of different levels and serves to fuel attacks on federal officers who have suffered significant levels of injuries in the rioting. However, the recent statement from Ken Cuccinelli, acting deputy secretary of Homeland Security, on the possibility of libel lawsuits is unsustainable under current tort law.
U.S. District Judge James Robart issued an order Friday night that blocked a Seattle law prohibiting police from using pepper spray and other anti-riot weapons. While described by the court as “very temporary,” it is also very dubious from a constitutional standpoint. I do not see the authority of a federal judge to stop the City of Seattle from determining what gear and devices may be used by its own officers, particularly in response to the federal government objecting to the state policy. The court in my view does not have the authority to make such a policy decision, even on a “very temporary” basis. Update: A different federal judge issued a more credible ruling in rejecting the demand of the Oregon Attorney General to put limits on the federal officers. The Oregon Attorney General’s filing was long on rhetoric and short on the law.