Skip to Content

Press Releases

Pennsylvania state icon

Houlahan Issues Statement on University Demonstrations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representative Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) issued the following statement:


“The First Amendment protects every American’s right to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. This applies to all Americans, including university students. Young people should feel empowered to use their voices to express themselves and to support or disagree with the issues they feel strongly about. As a veteran and now a member of Congress, I’ve sworn an oath to protect and defend our Constitutional rights such as these.


That said, the Constitutional right to protest and free speech must be lawful, peaceful, and orderly. After all, we are a nation of law and order. In some rare cases, protest devolves to being nothing more than incendiary obstruction, destruction, and trespassing. And in some rare cases, free speech crosses over into hate speech. In these instances, protesters — be they students or anyone else — should expect that arrest and physical removal are possibilities because obstruction, destruction, trespassing, and hate speech are criminal offenses.


Since the tragic and despicable October 7 attack by the terrorist organization Hamas on innocent Israelis, Americans, and others, protests and public displays of First Amendment rights have bubbled over into our public squares – in person and online. Nowhere is this more apparent than at our institutions of higher education.


Civil and peaceful protests are important tools for Americans, and they should continue to exercise their protected rights. As public officials, however, we must remember that the solution to the crisis in Gaza and Israel will be found through diplomatic negotiations and we must work tirelessly to support those efforts. Hamas must release the hostages and agree to the ceasefire that’s been offered to them so we can begin more long-term negotiations in good faith.


Israelis and Palestinians must be assured religious freedoms, peace, prosperity, and political stability in the region, including with neighboring nations. The legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for nationhood must be addressed. The security of our ally, Israel, must be assured as well. All of these goals are made intensely complicated by the terrorist group Hamas’ murderous attack and continuing threat to Israel, and by the geography of the region where two states need to be legally designated and respectfully coexist. 


Palestinians need new representation, free from the terror of Hamas. While the question of their representation has not yet been answered, we know Hamas can play no role in the future of the Palestinian people. We cannot give up hope for a more peaceful and prosperous Middle East where democracy can survive and thrive. I hope our students don’t give up hope, either.


I continue to support and honor Americans’ Constitutional rights here at home. We should all also insist on adherence to the foundations of our nation’s laws. I will continue to press for the cessation of hostilities in the Middle East, for aid to those in need, and for a durable and lasting peace for both Palestinians and Israelis,” said Houlahan.


Houlahan is an Air Force veteran, an engineer, a serial entrepreneur, an educator, and a nonprofit leader. She represents Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, which encompasses Chester County and southern Berks County. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. She is the recipient of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Abraham Lincoln Leadership for America Award which “recognizes members who demonstrate the bipartisan leadership and constructive governing necessary to move our country forward” and the Congressional Management Foundation’s 2022 Democracy Award for best Constituent Services in Congress.