A Call to Arms Against Campus Speech Codes

I hope you caught my op-ed in the weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal about the decision in Barnes v. Zaccari and how it could point the way to a strategy for ending the scandal of campus speech codes. I considered the Barnes case so bad that I used it as the example to open my book Unlearning Liberty and have written extensively about it over the last six years. As Ricochet readers know, the scofflaw university president in this case was held personally liable for ignoring the student’s due process rights to the tune of $50,000 in compensatory damages and will likely owe many times that in attorney’s fees. But, sadly, Georgia taxpayers may end up having to cover his costs.

If you missed the article (or if you are a non-subscriber) here is the main point:

The state should no more pay to defend a university president who ignored the Constitution than it should pay to defend a university president who committed a crime. [….]

More than a dozen major court rulings have forced public universities to end unconstitutional restrictions on speech. My organization has given hundreds of top colleges notice that their policies would likely be similarly struck down by courts. Because the law regarding student First Amendment rights is so clearly established, when public universities are proved guilty of enforcing unlawful speech codes anyway, administrators should be held personally liable. Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to continue to bail out those who strip their sons and daughters of their most basic rights.