Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., has been very patient.
Six months ago, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee asked 160 colleges with a “red light” speech rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) to explain
what steps your institution plans to take to promote free and open expression on its campus(es), including any steps toward bringing your speech policies in accordance with the First Amendment.
None of them responded by Goodlatte’s Aug. 28 deadline, with some querying FIRE itself how it should respond.
Now in February 2016, Goodlatte is going after the remaining 33 colleges that never responded, asking them to respond by Feb. 25 – again, a full six months after Goodlatte’s deadline – or face legislative action:
In the letter today, Chairman Goodlatte urges these institutions to respond in order to assess how Congress may address the free speech issues occurring on the campuses of public colleges and universities.
The letter notes:
According to FIRE, a “red light” institution “is one that has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.” FIRE defines a “clear” restriction as a policy that on its face is a threat to free speech and “does not depend on how the policy is applied.” FIRE defines a “substantial” restriction as a policy that is “broadly applicable” to speech on campus.
Colleges have been on notice even longer that the Judiciary Committee is monitoring their hostile actions toward students’ freedoms, especially Christian groups who have been threatened for not letting unbelievers run for leadership posts, as made clear in a June hearing by the Constitution Subcommittee.
FIRE said in its post about Goodlatte’s followup that Tarleton State University and Alabama State were among institutions who “reached out to us to work on reforming their speech codes” after hearing from Goodlatte.
IMAGE: Virginia Department of Transportation/Flickr