Saturday, November 6, 2021

The ABA, AALS, LWI, CLEA, and All Law Schools Should Adopt the University of Chicago Principles of Free Expression

Freedom of expression on college campuses has been a hot topic lately, especially in light of MIT disinviting a distinguished geophysicist because he opposed affirmative action.  A number of professors at MIT have urged their university to adopt the University of Chicago Principles of Free Expression.  (here)


"We, the undersigned MIT faculty members, urge that the Institute improve its written commitment to academic freedom and free expression by officially adopting the Chicago Principles, as articulated in a 2014 University of Chicago report."

"Because MIT is committed to free and open inquiry in all matters, it guarantees all members of the MIT community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn. Except insofar as limitations on that freedom are necessary to the functioning of the Institute, MIT fully respects and supports the freedom of all members of the MIT community 'to discuss any problem that presents itself.'"

"In a word, MIT’s fundamental commitment is to the principle that debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the MIT community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed. It is for the individual members of the MIT community, not for MIT as an institution, to make those judgments for themselves, and to act on those judgments not by seeking to suppress speech, but by openly and vigorously contesting the ideas that they oppose. Indeed, fostering the ability of members of the MIT community to engage in such debate and deliberation in an effective and responsible manner is an essential part of the Institute’s educational mission.

As a corollary to the Institute’s commitment to protect and promote free expression, members of the MIT community must also act in conformity with the principle of free expression. Although members of the MIT community are free to criticize and contest the views expressed on campus, and to criticize and contest speakers who are invited to express their views on campus, they may not obstruct or otherwise interfere with the freedom of others to express views they reject or even loathe. To this end, the Institute has a solemn responsibility not only to promote a lively and fearless freedom of debate and deliberation, but also to protect that freedom when others attempt to restrict it."

I now urge the ABA, AALS, LWI, CLEA, and all law schools to adopt the Chicago Principles.  You can find the Chicago Principles here.  These principles have been adopted by Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, BU, and 78 other universities and colleges.

(Scott Fruehwald)

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