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Berkeley Law Dean: ‘Hate Speech’ Is Free Speech, Especially on Campuses

Elijah Nouvelage/Getty
Elijah Nouvelage/Getty

UC Berkeley Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky affirmed that “hate speech” is protected speech on public college campuses, in a column for Vox on Wednesday.

Chemerinsky, a celebrated constitutional law scholar and dean of the law school at UC Berkeley, vigorously defended “hate speech” protections under the constitution in an article for Vox this week. Chemerinsky recalled conversations that were had at the prestigious public university following the fallout over several controversial speaking engagements that took place on campus this year.

It was September, and I was at a forum at which several professors, including me, discussed free speech issues before a large audience of students at the University of California Berkeley. Several faculty and students had already implored Chancellor Carol Christ to revoke the invitations of conservative provocateurs Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter to speak on campus, and their declarations were met with enthusiasm.

Although private universities are not bound by the First Amendment, Chemerinsky argues that they should follow the same principles. “Although the First Amendment applies only to the government, including public universities, private universities should follow these same principles. They are essential to academic freedom, which is at the very core of a university’s mission,” he wrote.

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