Is Georgetown’s speech and expression policy unconstitutional?

Or better to ask would it (PDF!) be, if the law required private institutions to uphold the expression clause in the First Amendment?

FIRE, the Foundational for Individual Rights in Education, says yes. In their whirlwind evaluation of U.S. News & World Report’s top 25 Universities’ free speech policies, FIRE determined that the state of speechifying at Georgetown University made it a “‘red light’ institution”:

Turning now to Georgetown’s speech codes, the most objectionable policy in force at Georgetown … literally prohibits any “intentional act deemed offensive” at Georgetown University. This directly contradicts the Supreme Court’s holding that “If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”

Consider the benefits of this loophole: deem any question asked by that one kid right before class is about to end offensive, and Poindexter’s got no legal recourse through which to fight the ramifications.

3 Comments on “Is Georgetown’s speech and expression policy unconstitutional?

  1. The question is not whether Georgetown University’s policy violates the First Amendment (which only applies to the government). It does not–Georgetown is a private university, and the First Amendment simply doesn’t apply. Rather, the question is whether Georgetown University’s policy violates Department of Education policies prohibiting discrimination, with which Georgetown University must comply since it accepts DoE funds for scholarships, etc.

  2. Pingback: Blog Roundup: Crowdsourcing, Product Placement and, of course, Barack Obama | Gnovis Journal

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