Press Release

ADL Urges Senate Judiciary Committee to Protect Campus First Amendment Rights While Confronting Hate Speech

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New York, NY, June 20, 2017 … As the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on “Free Speech 101: The Assault on the First Amendment on College Campuses,” the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today urged Senators to protect First Amendment-protected speech – and recognize that hate speech, though protected, must prompt effective responses from campus administrators, faculty and students.

“While odious hurtful speech may be permissible, it is not harmless, and must not go unanswered,” said Deborah M. Lauter, ADL Senior Vice President of Policy & Programs. “This commitment to counter hateful speech is particularly critical at our university and college campuses as they are our best laboratories for nurturing ideas, innovation, and debate.”

In submitted testimony, ADL raised concerns about state legislation that would shift discretion on how to handle campus free speech controversies from the university to the statehouse. The League also detailed growing efforts by white supremacy organizations to mobilize and recruit on college campuses.

ADL’s statement included the following policy recommendations:

  • Reject legislative attempts to strip university leaders of their discretion and link federal funding to speech.
  • Educate faculty and students on the parameters of their First Amendment free speech rights.
  • Improve training for campus officials and police on responding to bias incidents and hate crimes.
  • Dedicate resources to determining the most effective means of capturing and responding to bias incidents.
  • Convene a National Task Force on Inclusive Excellence.

ADL works with colleges and universities across the country, on both proactive education about hate, bigotry and bias, and in response to specific hate incidents on campus when they occur. ADL professionals have expertise in combatting hate, building inclusive communities, and safeguarding civil rights.