American Bar Association passes resolution requiring law schools to adopt pro-free speech policies

The American Bar Association passed a measure requiring accredited law schools to adopt pro-free speech policies.

The American Bar Association passed a resolution that requires accredited law schools to have policies in support of free speech and academic freedom.

The association, which is the accrediting agency for law schools, passed the resolution during a February meeting of its house of delegates.

According to the resolution, law schools will be required to “adopt, publish, and adhere to written policies that encourage and support the free expression of ideas.”

Law schools accredited by the American Bar Association will also be required to “Protect the rights of faculty, students, and staff to communicate ideas that may be controversial or unpopular, including through robust debate, demonstrations, or protests” in their free speech policy.

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Under the resolution, law schools will ban any disruptive conduct that prevents free expression.

The new regulation requiring pro-free speech policies will be required at any institution accredited by the American Bar Association, whether it’s public or private.

A similar proposal was written in August 2022, but was withdrawn before a vote was brought up.

”Effective legal education and the development of the law require the free, robust, and uninhibited sharing of ideas reflecting a wide range of viewpoints. Becoming an effective advocate or counselor requires learning how to conduct candid and civil discourse in respectful disagreement with others while advancing reasoned and evidence-based arguments. Concerns about civility and mutual respect, however, do not justify barring discussion of ideas because they are controversial or even offensive or disagreeable to some,” the newly passed resolution reads.

The American Bar Association’s passage of the free speech resolution comes after several institutions, including the University of Michigan, passed similar measures.

In a press release, the University of Michigan said it adopted a “statement of principles on diversity of thought and free speech,” which was first introduced in October.

”These principles declare unequivocally that cancel culture is dead at the University of Michigan,” said Regent Mark Bernstein, who’s a Democrat, according to the Detroit News.

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”As a great public university guided by the letter and spirit of the First Amendment, we enthusiastically embrace our responsibility to stimulate and support diverse ideas and model constructive engagement with different viewpoints in our classrooms and labs, lecture series and symposia, studios and performance halls, exhibits and publications, and among our entire community of students, teachers, researchers, and staff. When we disagree on matters of intellectual significance, we make space for contesting perspectives. We must listen critically and self-critically,” reads the statement.