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Week in Review: States Should Take the Lead in Protecting Free Speech on Campus

June 22, 2019

June 22, 2019

Nowhere in the United States do individuals struggle more to listen and be heard than on college campuses.

As Goldwater Institute Senior Fellow Jonathan Butcher explains this week in the Daily Caller, Alabama lawmakers seem to agree with this: Recently, Governor Kay Ivey signed bipartisan legislation to protect free speech at public universities. Now, he writes, other states should follow suit and move forward with protecting speech on college campuses.

“If university administrators do not create a learning environment that allows students and educators to pursue truth, then college governing boards and state lawmakers must develop specific proposals to do so,” Butcher writes. “State lawmakers must protect the First Amendment, especially at postsecondary institutions—and not wait until our most cherished rights are under attack before doing so.”

Defending Property Rights in Seattle

On Friday, the Goldwater Institute was in a Washington courtroom defending the rights of Seattle homeowners like Andy Morris to share their homes with overnight guests.

Andy owns Seattle Vacation Home, LLC, a local business that operates properties around the city and rents some of them as short-term rentals through online platforms. These properties routinely receive high marks from renters, and Seattle Vacation Home take the utmost care to keep them in excellent condition. The company also works hard to keep problems at its properties to a minimum. Over the course of more than 2,500 bookings, the properties have received just a handful of noise complaints. 

But the city of Seattle has imposed a set of restrictions that make it difficult for someone to operate a home-sharing business, harming local entrepreneurs who have been operating in the city for years without incident. Under these regulations, someone can only rent out their primary residence plus two additional properties. If an individual, or business, owns more than three properties, they will be prohibited from using them for short-term rentals.

Home-sharing helps provide a livelihood to Andy and his wife—and we’re working to help restore their ability to keep doing so. Read more about the case here.

What’s Ahead for Free Speech on Facebook?

Goldwater Institute Communications Director Mike Brownfield was recently in Oklahoma to take part in a roundtable discussion on Facebook’s proposed independent oversight board, which would be tasked with deciding whether to censor posts with instances of possible hate speech or fake news—and the experience left him concerned about respect for free speech. 

“While I can understand why Facebook would prefer to defer difficult decisions to an ‘oversight’ board, the reality is that such a board would simply engage in more censorship, particularly of right-leaning groups. The better course would be for the default position of Facebook (and other social media platforms) to be one that embraces free speech, even when controversial,” Brownfield writes.

You can read more about his experience at the roundtable discussion on In Defense of Liberty.



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