Judge Deals Blow to First Amendment
Article from Reason by Robby Soave.
A judge has dealt a significant blow to the free speech rights of students at Syracuse University, a private school in New York.
James McClusky, a justice of the New York Supreme Court 5th Judicial District, ruled earlier this month that Syracuse may suspend several members of the Theta Tau fraternity for private, offensive behavior—despite the promise, contained within the university’s student code of conduct, that students generally have the right to express themselves freely.
Syracuse first took action against the students in June after video footage of them privately roasting one another—making immature and demeaning but satirical comments about each other—were leaked to the student newspaper. The language used by the students was offensive, and Syracuse’s administration was right to describe it as “extremely racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, sexist, and hostile to people with disabilities.” Note, though, that this was a private, comedic event, and the hurtful language was aimed at willing participants.
In any event, the student code of conduct states that students “have the right to express themselves freely on any subject provided they do so in a manner that does not violate the code.” Administrators characterized the speech as harassing and threatening, and thus outside the protection of the code.
Read the entire article at Reason.
Image Credit: By St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons