Experts say Trump cannot cut Berkeley’s funds, despite his tweet

The news out of the University of California, Berkeley, Wednesday night stunned many. A lecture by Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos — known for his inflammatory insults — was called off amid violent protests. While a large group of students and others engaged in nonviolent protest, an organized group of about 100-150 people from off campus, many of them masked, set fires, threw fireworks and rocks, and scuffled with police. The university had defended the right of Yiannopoulos to appear, but said safety issues forced it to call off the event.

Then Thursday morning, with Berkeley still cleaning up from the protests, President Trump weighed in.

Donald J. Trump on Twitter

If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?

Experts said they don’t think the president has the authority to do so.

Tony DeCrappeo, president of the Council on Governmental Relations, a group that monitors laws and regulations related to research universities, said he knew of no law that would permit Trump to cut off funds to a university over a campus speaker.

The American Council on Education had a lawyer review the issue and found no such authority to punish a college over a speaker dispute, said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president at the association of college presidents. He said that, during the Nixon administration, officials discussed some ways to use federal funding to punish colleges that were the sites of anti-war protests, but the idea never went forward and was viewed as unconstitutional.

Federal laws do of course impose requirements on colleges receiving federal aid that have nothing to do with the aid, per se. And some members of Congress have used such laws to oppose certain trends on campuses. In the 1980s, U.S. Representative Gerald Solomon, a New York Republican, attached to several appropriations bills provisions that cut off federal funds to institutions that did not permit military recruiters on campus. At the time, many law schools did ban military recruiters, saying that the military’s anti-gay discrimination (since ended) violated institutional policies. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law.

Via Inside Higher Ed