Press Releases | Freedom of Expression

ACTA Files Amicus Brief in Support of Speech First in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit

August 19, 2019 by ACTA

Washington, DC – The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) filed an amicus brief for the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. Joined by the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF), the brief supports Speech First in its legal battle with the University of Texas-Austin.

ACTA and IWF believe that UT-Austin’s Campus Climate Response Teams and speech restrictions have fostered an environment that silences debate and discourse on its campus. The amicus brief reveals the motives and procedures UT-Austin has for limitations of student speech.

  1. “There is clear and overwhelming evidence that the ‘general’ discussions in which members of Speech First would like to engage are roundly discouraged at UT- Austin and elsewhere; that faculty and administrators’ clear and overwhelming political biases create strong and persistent pressures not to express conservative viewpoints; and that conservative students routinely self-censor from a reasonable fear of potential academic and professional repercussions, including the specific fear that other students will report their speech under policies designed to deter offensive speech.”
  2. “By prohibiting ‘uncivil… language that interfere[s] with the… individuality’ of other students, the University is stating an intention to change the contours of public discussion on campus.”
  3. “UT-Austin’s speech policies reference penalties, sometimes inunnecessarily menacing terms, but fail to articulate clear processes or guidelines according to which complaints will be adjudicated.”
  4. “UT-Austin’s policies create instruments and processes that are predictably and demonstrably susceptible to being used for ideological reasons by students to deter others from speaking.”

“The academy’s mission is to prepare students to be informed and engaged citizens, but this cannot happen when ideas are sidelined, ignored, or even banned based upon political bias,” stated Michael Poliakoff, President of ACTA. “These strategically vague speech policies are instruments to deter viewpoint diversity and diminish the free exchange of ideals.”


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