Southeastern Legal Foundation urges Supreme Court to strike down bias response teams

WASHINGTON, DC (Sept. 15, 2023): Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court urging the Supreme Court to strike down bias response teams once and for all. Bias response reporting systems allow (and invite) students to report their peers to administrators any time they feel offended. Reports are followed up by investigations and frequent referrals to disciplinary authorities. Understandably, this constant monitoring of speech and institution of disciplinary action scares students into silence. Students at Virginia Tech, represented by Speech First, are petitioning the Supreme Court to end this all-too-common practice.

As SLF explains in its amicus brief, bias response teams and systems blatantly violate the First Amendment. Colleges are meant to be the marketplace of ideas. When they instead create bias reporting systems and bias response teams and encourage students to report each other any time they feel offended, they abandon their duty to welcome and encourage lively debate on campus.

Director of SLF’s 1A Project Cece O’Leary states, “The First Amendment protects students’ right to speak freely, especially on political matters. Colleges cannot hide behind bias response teams that ultimately force students into self-censorship for fear of punishment.”

SLF and other groups have supported conservative students battling against these bias response teams for years now. But as SLF explains in its brief, this matter needs to be resolved by the Supreme Court because colleges have gotten away with this censorship for too long.

O’Leary adds, “Conservative students are constantly reported to administrators and face discipline and harassment every time they want to host a speaker, or hang a flyer, or engage in speech on political and social issues. They are exhausted from having to fight these battles, and it is time for the Supreme Court to resolve this issue by striking down bias response teams as unconstitutional.”

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