Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

ABA Weighs New Free Speech Rule For Law Schools

Reuters, ABA Weighs New Free Speech Rule for Law Schools:

ABA (2023)The American Bar Association may soon require law schools to adopt free speech policies, a change that follows several high-profile campus incidents in which students disrupted controversial speakers.

The ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which oversees law school accreditation, on Friday will consider a new rule mandating “written policies that encourage and support the free expression of ideas.”

Schools would develop their own free speech policies under the ABA proposal, but those policies must protect the rights of faculty and staff and students to communicate controversial or unpopular ideas and safeguard robust debate, demonstrations, or protests. They must also forbid disruptive activities that hinder free expression or substantially interfere with law school functions or activities. ...

The ABA's law school standards have long covered academic freedom for faculty, but if adopted, the proposal represents the first time they will address free speech for the entire law school community, said William Adams, the ABA’s managing director of accreditation and legal education.

A number of prominent U.S. law schools [including Stanford and Yale] have come under criticism for their handling of student protests against conservative guest speakers.

ABA Journal, Professors, Administrators and Counsel Applaud Proposed ABA Standard on Academic Freedom

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