Campus Speech Codes

“It is an unfortunate fact of our constitutional system that the ideals of freedom and equality are often in conflict. (Judge Avern Cohn, in Doe v. University of Michigan, 1989) These words spoken by Judge Cohn are the exact truth, for many years there has always been conflict with the ideals of freedom and equality from the work place to educational institutions. During the 1980s and 90s many college campus decided to adopt speech codes that would prevent conflict from ideas like hate speech. Over 350 college campuses and universities adopted speech codes that would regulate any forms of hate speech. Many advocates that pushed for speech codes felt that these codes should have little to no protection from the first amendment. They also felt “that existing First Amendment jurisprudence must be changed because the marketplace of ideas does not adequately protect minorities” (Hudson). They felt that minorities voices were unable to be heard under the First Amendment. With so many of these speech codes, unfortunately they did not all work well. Some codes were challenged to the court, and those that were failed because they were either over-broad or  vague. The court resolved the issue by stating, “While the Court is sympathetic to the University’s obligation to ensure equal educational opportunities for all of its students, such efforts must not be at the expense of free speech” (Hudson).

Hudson, D. (2002, September 13). First Amendment Center. Retrieved April 25, 2015, from http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/hate-speech-campus-speech-code

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