Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Friday, October 16, 2015

Congressman Speaks Up For Free Speech

One Congressman remembers that the First Amendment still applies to public universities, and he is taking action to make sure that others know this too. Republican Representative Bob Goodlatte of Virginia sent a letter to 160 universities reminding them of their constitutional obligation to protect free speech and asking them what steps they are taking to protect it. Representative Goodlatte said that he was motivated to take action after hearing of a report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education condemning many public universities for restrictive speech codes. The letter informed the schools that “The First Amendment prohibits the government, including public colleges and universities, from infringing on free speech and the free exercise of religion. Yet despite these constitutional protections, speech-restrictive policies in our nation’s public colleges and universities remain.”

After pointing out these facts, Rep. Goodlatte’s letter strongly encouraged the schools to take voluntary action to improve their policies. Goodlatte does not directly threaten congressional action to compel schools to comply with the law, but simply asks “what steps your institution plans to take to promote free and open expression on its campus, and bring your speech policies in accord with the First Amendment.”

It is good to see that some legislators are stepping up in defense of free speech on college campuses. Many students have been restricted in what they are allowed to say on campus in order to keep certain other groups from being offended. This simply should not be. Public university campuses should be places where all viewpoints are allowed. Anything less is a clear infringement of students’ constitutionally-protected rights.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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