OXON HILL, Md.—Politicians and policymakers didn’t realize until recently how much leftist groups work with American colleges and universities to encourage the suppression of academic freedom while the government does nothing, a House conservative said Friday during a Heritage Foundation event. 

“I think that we’re only lately understood the full scope of a host of academic NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] attached in many cases to leftist universities, and [how] they work together to sort of outsource the censorship regime,” Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., said. 

Bishop stressed the point during a panel discussion of recommendations to reform the U.S. Justice Department contained in Heritage’s 920-page book “Mandate for Leadership 2025: The Conservative Promise” during the think tank’s 50th Anniversary Leadership Summit at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center.  

Bishop, who serves on the House Judiciary and Homeland Security committees, was joined by Mollie Hemingway, editor-in-chief of The Federalist; Gene Hamilton, vice president of America First Legal; and Russ Vought, former director of the Office of Management and Budget and now president of the Center of Renewing America. 

Hemingway, acting as moderator, asked questions about the state of the Justice Department and the power of what she called the “censorship-industrial complex.” 

“They suppress non-left-wing media. And so that’s how you see this rapid social change on every single issue, whether we’re talking about abortion or trans issues or the problems with rule of law,” Hemingway said of Big Tech’s censorship of conservative news outlets. “They’re preventing the American people from having a say in this.” 

Hamilton focused on the FBI’s focus of “bandwidth to be focusing flagging social media posts of American citizens as misinformation.” 

“There’s a legitimate role for government to play to put that information out there and let people make their own decision about what happened,” Hamilton said.  

“But it’s a completely different thing for the law enforcement apparatus of this country, under the auspices of the Department of Justice, to be controlling what you hear as an American citizen,” he warned the audience. “It is shocking. It should be fire alarms for everybody, in terms of what needs to be done.” 

Vought said the increase in FBI raids is due in part to the fact that “their managers get bonuses based on the extent of their use of SWAT” teams.  

The FBI, he said, has transformed from a law enforcement agency within the Justice Department to an intelligence agency. 

Hemingway asked the panelists how best to reform the Justice Department. 

“The FBI has authority and decision-making [that] should be decentralized back to field offices around the country,” Bishop said, adding: “And if there is a supervisory activity occurring, the Department of Justice must be primarily in the United States attorney’s offices and judicial districts across the country; the headquarters’ decision-making should be attenuated.”

Bishop also mentioned his support for House Republicans’ new subcommittee looking into the political weaponization of the Justice Department.  

“If you have an unwieldy department in an unwieldy bureau, it thinks of itself as an intelligence agency. You have to restore it to its original intent,” Hamilton said, adding:

You have to get the American people’s interest first and foremost, protecting public safety [and] defending the rule of law. And if you realign all of your activities around those two things, I think good things will happen.

Bishop hinted at the ongoing work of the new House subcommittee, saying Republican lawmakers “will continue to do great things in public” but also continue “working in private.” 

“We have one chance to solve” the situation, Bishop said as the panel discussion ended, explaining:

That means getting to it in this Congress, while we have the House of Representatives, and then seeing to it that the American people understand this perspective so that we can follow through as a country and elect a president who will restore liberty in the country, restore the Constitution to its proper place.

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