Washington, Sep 27 (IANS) US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has defended President Donald Trump's criticism of National Football League protests, telling an audience at Georgetown University in Washington DC that the "President has free speech rights too".
"No place in the country should we have more robust discussion than on college campuses", said Sessions, referencing his visit to Georgetown Law School where he had spoken on the same topic a day earlier. "This is not in the great tradition of America".
"A man who fails to recognize paradigmatic violations of the First Amendment is a poor choice to speak about free speech on campuses", the statement said.
Boise State University sent us this statement in response.
Sessions reminded students that these college campuses are - or should be - the very bastions of open and unfettered debate.
Highlighting the fact that the Justice Department is now prosecuting a woman for laughing during Sessions' confirmation hearing, the professors argued that "t$3 his kind of government chilling of speech is precisely what the First Amendment to the United States Constitution is meant to prevent". "But it is transforming into an echo chamber of political correctness and homogeneous thought, a shelter for fragile egos".
"We invite Jeff Sessions to practice what he preaches and face our questions on his department's policies".
Trump has been fueling debate on the issue since Friday, when he spoke at a rally and said that any protesting player was a "son of a bitch" who should be "fired". "To the students who might be faint or something if he spoke there".
"They can make their protest any other place". "We will enforce federal law, defend free speech and protect students' free expression from whatever end of the spectrum it may come". The attorney general said he believed Warren had the right to read the letter and defended the strength of debate in the US Senate. "The American heritage of law". The president is exactly right. "As was done for Justice Ginsburg's appearance, for instance, questions were solicited from students in advance and then the interviewer chose ones that were representative of the whole and pertinent to the event".
Sessions' speech comes days after President Trump harshly criticized NFL players who took a knee during the national anthem before games in protest of police shootings of unarmed African-Americans. "Of course, the players arent subject to any prosecution, but if they take a provocative act, they can expect to be condemned". "In effect, they coddle it and encourage it".
Inside the auditorium, several audience members sat with black tape covering their mouths in protest as well.
Sessions' speech, according to the school's website, was organized by its Center for the Constitution, led by high-profile professor Randy Barnett, who is known for his libertarian positions.
Freedom of thought and speech on the American campus are under attack.
But it's an important issue.
On the steps outside, around 150 Georgetown students and faculty demonstrated against the attorney general. "We hope in the future that AG Sessions will be courageous enough to engage in the robust debate that he claims to value".
This post has been updated to include GULC comment.