Should the Government Regulate Speech on Campus?

March 07, 2019


On March 2, President Trump announced his plans to sign an executive order “requiring colleges and universities to support free speech if they want federal research dollars.” Considering whether or not such an order would be constitutional, how it might be enforced, and how it could affect colleges and universities — two experts on campus free speech, Sigal Ben-Porath of the University of Pennsylvania and Adam Kissel, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Higher Education at the U.S. Department of Education, join host Jeffrey Rosen. They discuss the state of free speech on campuses across the country, and debate the best ways to tackle challenges to free speech, from speech zones to speech codes to protecting the rights of students and universities alike.


An early transcript of the podcast is linked here. The text may not be in its final form, accuracy may vary, and it may be updated or revised in the future.


Sigal Ben-Porath is a professor in the Graduate School of Education and the political science and philosophy departments at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also executive committee member of the Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy. Her research focuses on citizenship education, normative aspects of educational and social policy, philosophy of education, and political philosophy. Her most recent book is Free Speech on Campus (2017).

Adam Kissel is Visiting Scholar at American University and former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Higher Education at the U.S. Department of Education. Previously, he was Senior Program Officer at the Charles Koch Foundation, responsible for major higher education grants, and served as the Vice President of Programs for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

​​​​​​Jeffrey Rosen is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Constitution Center, the only institution in America chartered by Congress “to disseminate information about the United States Constitution on a nonpartisan basis.” 

Additional Resources

Our Interactive Constitution is the leading digital resource about the debates and text behind the greatest vision of human freedom in history, the U.S. Constitution. Here, scholars from across the legal and philosophical spectrum interact with each other to explore the meaning of each provision of our founding document. 

Freedom of Speech and the Press by Geoffrey R. Stone and Eugene Volokh

This episode was engineered by Greg Scheckler and produced by Jackie McDermott. Research was provided by Lana Ulrich, Jackie McDermott, and Megan Murphy.

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