Responding to Free Speech Violations on Campus

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Josh, Tim, and Rachel interview Casey Mattox on how students should deal with free speech violations, and responding to common arguments from typically leftists defending free speech violations.

Casey Mattox joined Alliance Defending Freedom in 2009 litigating cases to protect the First Amendment rights of students and faculty at public colleges and universities across the nation. Since December 2016 he has served as Director of ADF’s Center for Academic Freedom, where he leads a team of attorneys that is one of the most active groups of litigators defending First Amendment rights on public university campuses.

Casey has testified three times before House committees on a variety of First Amendment and other constitutional issues. He has also made numerous media appearances, and his work has been featured at USA Today, The Federalist, and Townhall, among others.

He earned his J.D. from Boston College Law School in 2001, and clerked for the Alabama Supreme Court.


  1. How would you respond to someone who defends free speech violations by saying that the first amendment does not guarantee a right to be heard?
  2. How would you respond to someone who says, “If you go to a public area to express your free speech rights but get drowned out by someone else expressing their free speech rights, you don’t get to shut down someone else’s rights because you want to be heard”?
  3. Can you talk about the concept of a “heckler’s veto”?
  4. What should students do if they’re trying to have a dialogue event and the pro-choice crowd comes out with noisemakers to drown that out, and the campus administration won’t do anything about it?
  5. The First Amendment isn’t ambiguous about whether or not people can physically block people from a speaking event, so why is that still sometimes happening? Are the penalties not big enough?
  6. Is there any path forward at a legal level to get around this problem? A way that would cause universities to get penalized in a way that would incentivize them to follow the law?
  7. What is the difference between a case where you’re able to successfully sue the school versus a case where you don’t have enough evidence to move forward? What should students do to make sure that their cases don’t end up in the pile of cases where nothing happens?
  8. What are some red flags that students should look out for so they can know when to call ADF?
  9. How would you respond to someone who defends free speech violations based on the idea that if the speech in question is dangerous, like Naziism, then it’s good to block people from hearing that speech or even get violent in response to it?

Related Links:

  • Timothy Brahm – Six Ways I’ve Seen Pro-Choice People Try to Censor Pro-Lifers. (Some of the defenses of free speech violations we discussed come from the comments under this article.)
  • Timothy Brahm – How Should Conservatives Respond to the Disturbing Trend of Campus Censorship?
  • Alliance Defending Freedom:
  • Follow Casey Mattox on Twitter:

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