Paul L. Caron
Dean




Tuesday, July 12, 2022

American University Clears Law Student Charged With Harassing A Conservative Christian Classmate Over His Pro-Life Views

Following up on my previous posts:

Reuters, Law Student Didn't Harass Classmate in Abortion Discussion, Probe Finds:

American University has cleared a law student of allegations that he harassed a classmate over his religious and conservative beliefs during a heated online discussion about the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn the nationwide right to abortion.

In a July 7 letter, the university said it did not find evidence to support the unnamed classmate'scomplaint that law student Daniel Brezina violated harassment policies "based on political affiliation or religious belief.” ...

Brezina was among eight students investigated following the May 2 discussion. ... Brezina said Monday that he does not know whether the other seven students were also cleared, but that the university’s letter suggests they were. The university said in a statement Monday that the process is confidential and the “matter is now concluded.”

The Eagle, American University Opens Investigation Into Eight Washington College of Law Students, Concerning Free Speech Advocates:

At least one student cleared after students investigated for sentiments expressed about Roe v. Wade in class group chat. ...

Others have also publicly made statements about the investigation, including University of California Los Angeles law professor Eugene Volokh. Volokh told The Eagle that the University’s decision to formally investigate the complaints results in a “chilling effect on speech.”

“When [the group chat dispute] is being labeled as a law school investigation into an allegation of harassment, harassment is a big deal… I would think that many students, even if they’re confident they will ultimately be exonerated, are going to feel chilled by that,” Volokh said. “Students might say ‘I don’t want to go through an investigation, I better not say anything that criticizes my classmate’s views because maybe it will happen to me next time.’”

Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, VICTORY: 43 Days Later, American University Finally Ends Investigation Into Pro-Choice Law Student:

On Thursday — after more than six weeks of investigation — American University administrators finally cleared a student of a bogus harassment charge for sharing his pro-choice opinions in a private group chat.

Daniel Brezina is one of eight law students who’d been under investigation since May 25 for commenting in a back-and-forth about abortion. Another student said their pro-choice commentary in the student-created group chat harassed and discriminated against him based on his religious, pro-life beliefs.

“I’m glad that the school has cleared me, but this investigation should never have happened in the first place,” Brezina said. “If American doesn’t commit to changing the way it handles these investigations, other students will still have to fear being investigated for pure speech.”

FIRE Letter to American University (July 8, 2022)

Inside Higher Ed, American U Clears Law Student for Sharing Pro-Choice Views

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2022/07/american-university-clears-law-student-charged-with-harassing-a-conservative-christian-classmate-ove.html

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