On Monday, Constitution Day, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others addressed the growing free speech problem on university campuses at an event in Washington.
“We have the oldest written Constitution still in use— 231 years. This brilliant document has stood the test of time,” said Sessions. He said our government has been durable because of its Founders’ understanding of people and power and the importance of a foundation on truth. He lauded the First Amendment and said, “[T]he Founders protected the liberty of Americans to express themselves. It was a core value of the new Republic.”
Sessions lamented the growing threats to free speech on higher education campuses, and noted cases in which the Justice Department had inserted itself. “We have reached a pivotal, perhaps even an historic, moment. It is time to stand up to the bullies on campus and in our culture,” he said.
Also at this event was Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who chairs the education committee in the Senate and a formerly served as U.S. Secretary of Education. Alexander urged university leaders to “veto the heckler’s veto” by penalizing those students who attempt to thwart the ability of speakers to speak and audiences to listen. However, he added, “What the federal government should not do is pass a law trying to solve all this. Conservatives do not like it when judges try to write laws, and conservatives should not like it when legislators and agencies try to rewrite the Constitution.”
Sessions declared his commitment to constitutional principles. He also recounted, “The words of the founder of the University of Virginia, as chiseled in his nearby monument, declare: ‘For I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.’”
“This was the vibrant spirit of our Founders. May we not depart from it,” he stated.
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: September 21, 2018