Feds side with plaintiff in case challenging UM’s speech code

Washington — The U.S. Department of Justice is supporting a plaintiff that sued the University of Michigan, with government lawyers calling the school’s speech vague and overly broad on the same day that UM announced updates to its policies.

The Washington, D.C.-based civil liberties group Speech First sued UM in federal court last month, alleging the university’s policies against harassment and bullying are overly broad and violate the First Amendment because students may preemptively restrict their speech to avoid discipline from the school’s Bias Response Team.

The Trump administration on Monday got involved as the Justice Department filed an official “statement of interest” in the case. It argued that the university — even if well-intentioned — “imposes a system of arbitrary censorship of, and punishment for, constitutionally protected speech.”

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