University of Michigan slammed

This Columbus, Ohio, native always enjoys writing or reading that headline.

In the specific instance, it refers to a report from Cameron Cawthorne of the Washington Free Beacon about Michigan’s campus free-speech protections.

The University of Michigan quietly updated its speech policies after the Justice Department pointed out that those policies don’t define the offenses they are trying to restrict.

The Justice Department’s statement of interest in the Speech First, Inc. v. Schlissel case alleged that Michigan’s rules against “bias” and “bullying” leave those terms undefined, and the university then updated its policies, according to a department press release. The department argued that the University’s speech policies infringe on the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

The university defended itself by claiming that the Justice Department “seriously misstated University of Michigan policy and painted a false portrait of speech on [Michigan’s] campus.” The department claimed otherwise in a release noting that Michigan updated its policy. …

… Michigan’s Bias Response Team in particular drew attention from the department’s statement of interest. The department argued that the undefined nature of “bias” in the university’s policies chill free speech because those policies vest authority about bias in the “feelings” students have.

“The most important indication of bias is your own feelings,” the Bias Response Policy states.

Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley released a statement slamming the University, saying that “we must not accept” when Universities try to use their authority to stifle principles like “diversity of thought and robust debate.”

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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