*In protest of a scheduled talk about campus free speech by Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions at Georgetown University Law Center on Tuesday, law professors and students took a knee outside the auditorium where he appeared.
More than 30 Georgetown Law faculty members also signed a letter in which they acknowledge Sessions’ right to be there but “condemn the hypocrisy of Attorney General Sessions speaking about free speech.”
In the statement, the professors noted Trump’s call for NFL players who protest during the national anthem to be fired, and they contrasted his labeling these protesters “sons of bitches” with his previous comments that some participants in a white supremacist rally were “very fine people.”
They also pointed to the Justice Department’s prosecution of a woman for disorderly and disruptive conduct after she laughed during Sessions’ confirmation hearing, and the department’s efforts to have a web hosting company hand over data associated with an online protest of Trump’s inauguration.
“These are just three examples of governmental action antithetical to freedom of speech and association for which Attorney General Sessions is either closely affiliated or directly responsible,” the professors wrote in the letter. “A man who fails to recognize paradigmatic violations of the First Amendment is a poor choice to speak about free speech on campuses.”
They also condemned Sessions’ positions on civil rights issues, and in particular regarding voting rights, Islamic versus domestic extremism, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and police shootings of unarmed black men.
According to the New York Times, some Georgetown students expressed frustration that their reservations to the event were canceled last minute and they were told that they could not attend because they were not part of the law center’s student invitation list.
Alicia Plerhoples, one of the Georgetown Law professors who signed the letter of protest, explained their position to BuzzFeed News in an email.
“We are not protesting his free speech; our colleague had every right to invite him to speak. We are protesting against his and the Trump Administration’s views on free speech,” she said.