Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered a powerful message in support of free speech on college campuses, warning that the American university is being transformed into an "echo chamber of political correctness and homogeneous thought."
He also promised that the Justice Department would support students who have gone to court to challenge restrictions on their speech.
There was a lot of truth in the attorney general's indictment, and much of his speech at Georgetown University Law Center sounded as if it had been lifted from editorials on this page.
We too have expressed concerns that controversial speakers might be silenced because universities fear violent protests, effectively granting protesters a "heckler's veto." We too have criticized college administrations that have confined students expressing their opinions and passing out literature to tiny "free speech zones." ...
But while we find much to admire in the attorney general's message, he is a flawed messenger. We worry that Sessions' embrace of free speech on campus — and his plan to deploy the Justice Department in vindicating it — might be designed to protect only conservative speech or to score political points with those on the right who believe liberal-arts campuses have turned into socialist re-education camps.
One problem with Sessions as a free-speech champion is that he serves a president who repeatedly has shamed and threatened those who exercise that right.
If Sessions' free-speech campaign is to be credible, it mustn't be applied in an ideological or politically motivated manner. Otherwise he will encourage cynicism and undermine support for the ideal that college campuses be the "forum for the competition of ideas" he rightly celebrated in his speech.