“The United States has a significant interest in the vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms in institutions of higher learning,” said the statement in support of the lawsuit that the Justice Department filed in federal court. “In recent years, many institutions of higher education have failed to uphold these freedoms, and free speech has come under attack on campuses across the country.”

The group suing Michigan is a new free speech advocacy organization called Speech First. Its suit contends that the university’s bias response team punishes students for engaging in constitutionally protected expression, thereby chilling free speech. Michigan’s code of conduct prohibits harassment and defines it broadly as “unwanted negative attention.” Taken together, these well-intentioned policies chill free speech on campus and violate the First Amendment, according to the lawsuit.

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