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The only thing that Trump's decree protects is the government's bureaucracy



On Thursday, President Trump presented his executive order to bind federal funds in support of freedom of speech. Surrounded by welcoming university students with stories of trigger warnings and retaliation, they suffered from handing out Valentines, the White House's talk show went without a hitch.

Despite all that is pumping, the actual text in the Order, however, has even less substance than the President's speech. In fact, it is a little more than a glorified reminder that colleges and universities are actually bound by the first amendment if they are public and by their stated obligations if they are private.

But for all its ease, or perhaps because of it, the text contains some harmful language that suggests the government's overreaction as it allows.

As the order goes, the heads of the covered agencies, in cooperation with the Director of the Office of the Administration and Budget, must take appropriate action in a manner consistent with the applicable law, including the first amendment, to secure institutions receiving Federal research or education grants promote free inquiry. "

As a lawyer for Freedom Issues and the University of Chicago, President Robert J. Zimmer warned that the order" would render in Washington exactly the type of campus & # 39; speech committee "that would be a natural and dangerous consequence of that attitude , many have advocated the limitation of discourse on campuses. "

In fact, by giving various agencies wide scope to legislate, which free speech or free query might mean ̵

1; it is also not defined in the order – Trump has created a bureaucratic tangle.

With all the Agencies to Agriculture to Energy agencies potentially coming up with their own separate guidelines, reporting requirements and other methods for assessing whether an institution promotes free inquiry, the entire administration has made it more expensive and difficult to apply for and Receive federal funding and probably further muddied the waters of campus freedom of speech.

Moreover, when it comes to private institutions, although many have not been his intention, Trump allows non-compliance with promised free speech or academic freedom, as interpreted by the federal government, to make scientists not eligible. In practice, it can essentially prohibit private religious institutions from receiving federal research dollars. Even if the Trump administration did not use the order as such, another administration could easily.

Putting the strong hand of the executive in the campus speech interpretation, Trump could have scored some quick points with conservatives. In the long run, however, federal agencies run by political leaders provide the power to define and assess acceptable discourse in higher education not to make colleges and universities the academic freedom centers that Trump claims he wants them. The only thing he protects is the government's bureaucracy.


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