Sessions to declare free speech 'under attack' on campus, in broadside at political correctness

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to declare freedom of speech is “under attack” at American colleges and universities, during an address Tuesday taking aim at political correctness run amok on campus.

Sessions plans to tackle the hot-button issue of free speech on campus at Georgetown University Law Center, following a series of clashes at Berkeley and beyond over conservative speakers.

“Freedom of thought and speech on the American campus are under attack,” Sessions plans to say, according to excerpts obtained in advance by Fox News. “Whereas the American University was once the center of academic freedom – a place of robust debate, a forum for the competition of ideas – it is transforming into an echo chamber of political correctness and homogenous thought, a shelter for fragile egos.”

'The university is supposed to be about the search for truth, not the imposition of truth by a government censor.'

— Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in prepared remarks

Sessions' remarks come amid a tense climate on college campuses.

The University of California, Berkeley -- the epicenter of this debate -- just cancelled its “Free Speech Week” after protests surrounding conservative speakers, including the event’s co-organizer, right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. Other headline conservative speakers were to include Ann Coulter and Steve Bannon.

Yiannopoulos attempted to speak at Berkeley in February, but it was shut down by masked protesters who rioted on campus.

A Justice Department official told Fox News that Sessions will likely mention the controversies at Berkeley.

In his prepared remarks, Sessions also plans to question who is deciding what is “offensive” and what is “acceptable.”

"The university is supposed to be about the search for truth, not the imposition of truth by a government censor," he says in the excerpts.

Sessions plans to warn that this culture is ultimately shutting down speech, while chastising school officials allowing it to happen.

"This has allowed a cottage industry of protestors to crop up who understand school administrators will capitulate to their demands and are now routinely shutting down speeches and debates across the country in an effort to silence voices that are insufficiently orthodox on their pet issues," he says in the excerpts.

The campus free-speech debate is relatively new territory for Sessions, who already is at the center of several other political firestorms -- from the DOJ's crackdown on sanctuary cities to the reversal of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Unclear is whether the attorney general's entry into this debate signals any broader focus by his department on such First Amendment issues.


“The right of free speech does not exist to protect the speech we all want to agree on. It exists to protect the very speech that we don’t want to hear,” Sessions plans to say on Tuesday.