UMich won’t punish speech with ‘legitimate purpose’ in response to First Amendment lawsuit

‘The case is far from over’

Days ahead of a filing deadline it failed to get extended, the University of Michigan has changed bullying and harassment policies that are targeted in a First Amendment lawsuit.

It revised those policies in line with state law the same day the Justice Department filed a brief in support of the lawsuit by Speech First, which claims the taxpayer-funded university’s bias response team is unconstitutional, as is a pending provision on “bias-motivated misconduct.”

The university claims that it was already reviewing these policies for their consistency with the First Amendment, and that Speech First’s lawsuit only “accelerated” its review.

In an announcement Monday, Vice President for Student Life E. Royster Harper said the “revised definitions more precisely and accurately reflect the commitment to freedom of expression that has always been expressed in the [Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities] itself.”

Speech First is keeping mum until its reply brief is due June 29. “The case is far from over. We’re looking forward to our day in court, and are gratified that DOJ has shown interest in our case,” President Nicole Neily (below) told The College Fix in an email, declining to comment further on the university’s changes because of the ongoing litigation.

The university did not answer Fix queries about the differences between its earlier and revised policies, simply providing a link to its Monday statement.

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