Justice Alito Discusses ‘Pretty Abysmal,’ ‘Disgraceful’ Free Speech Situation At Colleges, Law Schools
Group Photograph Of U.S. Supreme Court Justices Associate Justice Samuel Alito Jr. during the formal group photograph at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, US, on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. The court opened its new term Monday with a calendar already full of high-profile clashes, including two cases that could end the use of race in college admissions. Photographer: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images Bloomberg / Contributor
Photographer: Eric Lee/Bloomberg/Contributor via Getty Images

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito recently discussed the reality of free speech on college campuses and law schools, pointing to the disturbing culture surrounding the lack of free dialogue. 

During a discussion at the Heritage Foundation, Alito was asked about the situation on college campuses, as well as law schools, regarding freedom of speech. He said it is “pretty abysmal,” “disgraceful,” and “really dangerous for our future as a united, democratic country.”

“We depend on freedom of speech,” Alito said. “Colleges and universities should be setting the example, and law schools should be setting the example for the university because our adversary system is based on the principle that the best way to get at the truth is to have a strong presentation of opposing views. So, law schools should be free to speak their minds without worrying about the consequences, and they should have their ideas tested in rational debating.”

He pointed to different reports about law school campuses, as well as discussions he has held with students, where free speech has been an issue but was not specific about which schools to which he was referring. 

Alito said “based on what I have read and what has been told to me by students,” some law schools are “really not carrying out their responsibility” to safeguard the speech of students and “have their ideas tested in rational debating.”

Alito went on to discuss his beliefs about different types of speech when asked about “protected and unprotected speech.”

He said the Justices he has disagreed with in the past generally agree with him about the importance of free speech. 

“The real test, as Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, is whether we’re willing to protect the speech that we hate,” he said. 

“Any speech involving public interests, involving politics, government, history, economics, law, science, religion, philosophy, the arts — anything of that level of importance — the general rule has to be the government has to stay out,” he said, adding that the First Amendment doesn’t safeguard “the right of anybody to say anything they want” whenever they feel like it.

As The Daily Wire previously reported, Alito also said that the leaked draft majority opinion to get rid of Roe v. Wade risked the lives of some of the Justices. 

“The leak also made those of us who were thought to be in the majority in support of overruling Roe and Casey targets for assassination because it gave people a rational reason to think they could prevent that from happening by killing one of us,” Alito said.

Last month, U.S. Circuit Judge James Ho said that judges shouldn’t hire Yale law students due to the “cancel culture” at the school. He discussed an incident that happened in March when Yale students interrupted a discussion with an attorney who defended a Colorado baker who wouldn’t bake a cake for a homosexual wedding. Ho pointed out that the students hadn’t been punished for their actions, which meant “Yale not only tolerates the cancellation of views—it practices it.”

U.S. Circuit Judge Elizabeth Branch joined the decision not to hire Yale students earlier this month. 

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Justice Alito Discusses ‘Pretty Abysmal,’ ‘Disgraceful’ Free Speech Situation At Colleges, Law Schools