The Washington Post reports that University of Oklahoma’s now disbanded Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity has retained Stephen Jones, the defense attorney for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, to represent the fraternity in a lawsuit against the university. As previously reported on by Inquisitr, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity was recorded in a video singing a racist chant which included a reference to lynching.
Jones states that University of Oklahoma President David Boren rushed to a premature judgment in expelling two students and closing down the fraternity house giving them only two days to clear out. MSNBC quoted Boren’s statement for his actions against the SAE fraternity.
“We don’t have any room for racists and bigots at this university. I’d be glad if they left.”
Boren’s justification for closing the SAE fraternity house was simple – yet powerful.
“We don’t provide student services for bigots…”
It is this depiction of all of the members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity as racists that has alumni and current members of the fraternity outraged according to KFOR. Jones is focusing his efforts on the due process rights, First Amendment, and 14th Amendment rights of the fraternity members. According to KTUL, Jones stated that there have been threats of retaliation as well as actual violence against SAE fraternity members.
“Death threats have been received. Assaults and altercations have happened.”
As the lawsuit moves forward, the First Amendment case is going to be the focus of legal arguments. Glenn Reynolds, in a column for USA Today, points out that Boren, a former U.S. senator, broke the law in his rush to expel the two students and the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity from campus. Reynolds, who also cited UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, pointed out the legal rationale for his column.
“…racist speech is constitutionally protected…”
Despite your initial reaction to that quote, the American Civil Liberties Union also agrees with Reynolds and Volokh that “the right of free speech is put to its severest test when the speaker is someone we disagree with most.”
This case is going to be another debate over the meaning of the First Amendment. Liberals, who portray themselves as defenders of free speech, will be the first to say that there are indeed limits to free speech. Kent Greenfield of The Atlantic clearly displays liberal bias against free speech in his column concerning this SAE video specifically.
“No one with a frontal lobe would mistake this drunken anthem for…debate about race relations.”
The problem for Greenfield is the U.S. Constitution does not parse the 1st Amendment in such a way to suit individual preferences. So, it seems Sigma Alpha Epsilon has the right to sue OU for being labeled a racist by David Boren.
What do you think?