This Thursday, President Trump signed an executive order which threatens to withhold federal funding from college campuses if they fail to promote “free inquiry.”
The decision was not covered by major networks ABC, CBS, and NBC during Thursday evening newscasts, which instead covered headlines like:
- CVS’s decision to sell CBD products
- Celebrity health scares
- Crash test ratings for pickup trucks
- Gun control laws in New Zealand
Liberal networks weren’t excited about the executive order because it is a direct response to universities’ limiting of conservative viewpoints.
“We’re here to take historic action to defend American students and American values,” said Trump at the signing ceremony. “Under the guise of speech codes, safe spaces, and trigger warnings, these universities have tried to restrict free thought, impose total conformity, and shut down the voices of great young Americans.”
The order asks 12 grant-making agencies to ensure campuses are not limiting free speech before providing federal dollars. According to White House officials, the order affects the allocation of more than $35 billion.
The order does not alter existing laws, but it does create a new enforcement dynamic for universities with policies that violate the First Amendment (and there are many); and since speech suppression incidents tend to go viral, it will be easy for regulators to impose punishment.
Democrats will find it hard to fight the rule, because attempts to do so will be perceived as attacks against free speech. Ideally, the order will encourage public and private universities to reform their policies (if only to avoid funding cutoffs).
“It’s tragic that in the one country that was founded on liberty – the country that enshrined freedom of speech in its foundational document – this executive order has become necessary,” laments talk show host Dennis Prager. “But, thanks to the Left, it has. If President Trump can put a stop to the intolerance of non-leftist viewpoints on college campuses and help steer the country in the right direction, there just might be hope.”