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Campus Free Speech Debate Heads to DC

April 25, 2018

April 25, 2018

Will the freedom of speech survive on college campuses? It’s a question we’ve been asking in a series of debates all across the country, from Michigan to California, Illinois to Arizona. Tonight, that debate heads to Washington, D.C., where we are co-hosting an event at American University at 6 p.m.

You can get more details and register here.

Earlier today, Freedom Works broadcast a discussion about the attack on the freedom of speech with Jim Manley, a senior fellow at the Goldwater Institute and an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. Manley has worked with policy makers across the country to help enact reforms aimed at restoring free speech as a living tradition on college campuses.

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Manley discussed the “shout-down phenomenon” on college campuses, where perceived controversial speakers are prevented from exercising their free speech rights. You can watch the interview here.

“It’s come to the point where you really can’t have a conversation on campus anymore because certain ideas are just not allowed to be expressed,” Manley said. “There needs to be some sort of solution to this problem. Litigation hasn’t been working, so we proposed a model bill to help resolve this campus free speech crisis.”

“The bill takes a comprehensive approach to free speech. It focuses on the shout-down problem, but it also looks at things like free speech zones, where protesters or even folks who just want to hand out Constitutions have to go to a tiny little corner of campus, it gets rid of those, it gets rid of speech codes, which are really draconian limits on what sort of things can be discussed on campus, and it ensures that the public has information about what’s going on on public college campuses that they’re paying to fund.”

The Goldwater proposal also establishes a system of disciplinary sanctions for students and anyone else who interferes with the free-speech rights of others. North Carolina and the Wisconsin university system have adopted similar policies. In Arizona, the state senate voted to send a bill protecting campus free speech to Governor Doug Ducey, based on the Goldwater model. These policies are already protecting free speech. When Second Amendment supporter and conservative author Katie Pavlich spoke at the UW Madison, demonstrators staged a protest but decided not to disrupt her talk and specifically attributed their decision to the new “three strikes” discipline policy.

The proposal also includes critical due process protections so students accused of violating others’ free speech rights would get a hearing and proper legal representation. But the key provision that sets Goldwater’s proposal apart is that it stops shout-downs from turning violent, ensuring free speech for everyone—speakers and protestors alike.

You can learn more about how the Goldwater Institute’s proposed legislation will restore free speech on campus while protecting the right to protest, all in our new video.



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