- The Washington Times - Friday, March 13, 2015

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma has determined the University of Oklahoma cannot expel the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity simply for “vile and reprehensible speech.”

The organization issued a statement Thursday explaining that as a state-run institution of higher education, OU has a duty to respect the free speech principles “that are central to the mission of every university.”

“Any sanction imposed on students for their speech must therefore be consistent with the First Amendment and not merely a punishment for vile and reprehensible speech; courts have consistently and rightly ruled as such,” the statement said. “Absent information that is not at our disposal, it is difficult to imagine a situation in which a court would side with the university on this matter.”

The statement comes after OU booted the SAE chapter from campus and expelled two fraternity brothers for what university president David Boren called their “leadership role in leading a racist and exclusionary chant.” The former chapter has said it is planning legal action against the university and has hired high profile attorney Stephen Jones for representation, a local ABC affiliate reported.

The ACLU says it is closely monitoring the situation and will appropriately respond to new details as they emerge.

“In the meantime, we stand in solid support of the brave and thoughtful students whose public dialogue on race and the rights of all minority students in response to the incident have embodied the spirit of the First Amendment,” the statement said.

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