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Week in Review: Defending Campus Free Speech, on the Road and Online

February 3, 2018

February 3, 2018

When Second Amendment supporter and conservative author Katie Pavlich spoke at the UW Madison, protestors staged a protest that some might call obscene —but they didn’t disrupt her talk.

The reason?

Demonstrators said it was because of the university’s new “three strikes” discipline policy based on the Goldwater Institute’s model legislation designed to restore free speech on campus. If it weren’t for that policy, we probably would have seen yet another defeat for the free exchange of ideas.

We unveiled our legislation one year ago, and we’ve already seen considerable success. Policies based on the model bill have been adopted in two states, and almost a dozen legislatures will consider proposals inspired by the model this session.

But there’s more work to do. That’s why the Goldwater Institute is launching a new effort to expand the national conversation on campus free speech—taking it on the road with debates and forums at campuses across the country, and online at Among the highlights on the website is a new video about the importance of protecting free speech on college campuses. As the video explains, free expression is central to the learning process—and if the right to speak freely is taken away from anyone, it can easily be taken away from everyone.

Our campus tour began last week with stops at the University of Illinois College of Law in Champaign and at Grand Valley State University outside Grand Rapids, Michigan. Jim Manley, Senior Attorney at the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation, co-authored the Institute’s campus free speech legislation and was the featured speaker at both events. As Manley says, the time for debate and reform is long overdue.

“Nowhere is the need for open debate more important than on America’s college campuses. Students maturing from teenagers into adults must be confronted with new ideas, especially ideas with which they disagree, if they are to become informed and responsible members of a free society.

“Colleges and universities need to recognize the role they play in shaping their students’ openness to ideas and take action to ensure that free expression is protected on their campuses.”

Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin are all considering legislation based on the Goldwater model, and Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, and Wyoming are expected to consider similar legislation soon.

Learn more about the issue at

Liberty in the News this Week

  • In his State of the Union Address, President Trump called on Congress to pass Right to Try and give millions of Americans new hope, saying: “People who are terminally ill should not have to go from country to country to seek a cure. I want to give them a chance right here at home. It’s time for Congress to give these wonderful, incredible Americans the right to try.”
  • The Goldwater Institute partnered with the Arizona Free Enterprise Club last week to share news about how home-based businesses are good for entrepreneurs and local economies. We welcomed Arizona home-based business owner Kim O’Neil to talk about how government regulations put her out of business. Arizona Rep. Jeff Weninger also joined us to talk about the Arizona Home-Based Business Fairness Act, which promotes a commonsense approach to home-based businesses.
  • Did you know that the Food and Drug Administration restricts what people can say about drugs and medical devices? That violates the free-speech rights of patients and guarantees they will not learn about new treatments. Learn more about it in a special Cato Institute event on Wednesday, February 7 at 12 PM – 1:30 PM EST, featuring Goldwater Institute Executive Vice President Christina Sandefur will speak at a Cato Institute event. Watch live online here.



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