MARCH 5, 2019

RESTON, VA—President Trump’s promise of an executive order to prevent colleges and universities from receiving federal research funding when they ignore the U.S. Constitution is a welcome change after decades of bloated government sending billions of dollars to schools that violate the constitutional rights of their students.

As has been noted in coverage of the President’s recent announcement, this action builds upon the Trump Administration’s support of YAF v. Napolitano, Young America’s Foundation’s landmark First Amendment lawsuit against UC Berkeley. In a statement announcing the Department of Justice’s statement of interest in YAF’s ultimately-successful case, Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand noted that the Administration “will not stand by idly while public universities violate students’ constitutional rights.”

Reporting shows the government dispatched more than $38 billion for research in FY 2015, part of an arrangement set up following World War II where America’s institutions of higher education receive federal funds to undertake research projects. 

While it was reasonably assumed that the best and the brightest in America were being guided in a pursuit of higher learning, what we see today is a vastly different environment. Ideological diversity and the free and open exchange of ideas have been replaced with mandatory sensitivity trainings, safe spaces, free speech zones, and faculty who suppress—rather than encourage—exploring new and diverse ideas. 

America’s campuses should be the venues where speech is most unfettered, and our government should never fund an institution that undermines students’ right to free expression.

“For too long, America’s ‘prestigious’ public institutions of higher education have violated the First Amendment rights of their students with impunity, all while receiving billions of taxpayer dollars. America’s founders endowed the government to protect our rights, not fund institutions that undermine them,” noted Young America’s Foundation Spokesman Spencer Brown. “Despite the fact that the First Amendment already protects free expression, schools continue to ignore it. As an extension of Young America’s Foundation’s work to hold schools accountable for their unconstitutional actions, YAF is excited to hear of President Trump’s plan to use the power of the purse to incentivize public institutions to recognize and protect the First Amendment rights of all students.”

This is not the first time Young America’s Foundation has supported federal action to protect American values at colleges and universities. In the late 1990s, YAF rallied support for the successful passage of the ROTC Campus Access Act—later renamed the Solomon Amendment—that allows the Secretary of Defense to deny grants to colleges or universities if they fail to support ROTC programs or military recruitment on their campuses. Despite challenges to its constitutionality by professors at elite law schools, the United States Supreme Court unanimously declared it constitutional. 

For additional comment or to request an interview contact YAF Spokesman Spencer Brown via or 800-872-1776.