Campus free speech is in danger, Heritage highlights need for reform

In 2016, college student Michelle Gregoire and her classmates were arrested and put in jail for distributing copies of the U.S. Constitution on their college campus. Ben Shapiro was disinvited from DePaul and AEI scholar Charles Murray was notably shouted-down at Middlebury. Ensuing riots sent a Middlebury professor to the hospital.

Our constitutional right to free speech is under assault. And antagonism towards free speech is displayed with concerning violence.

The very notion of the pervasive “campus free speech zones” is self-contradictory. Yet one in ten of the top colleges have such zones. Many are severely restricted. Free speech cannot be literally put in a box, only to be exercised in certain places, during certain hours, under certain conditions, and at the discretion of certain authorities. And no institution that receives federal funding should be allowed to infringe upon rights like this.

Heritage is committed to protecting and preserving our First Amendment rights. Tuesday, Heritage hosted a discussion entitled “Doublespeak 101: “Free Speech Zones” and the Threat to Free Speech on Campus,” featuring opening remarks by Congressman Phil Roe, a key proponent of Congressional measures to eliminate unconstitutional campus speech policies.

In this insightful panel, these experts discussed the state of free speech on campus, the problem of free speech zones, and potential remedies at the state and federal level.

As Congressman Phil Roe said:

Free speech is the oxygen of democracy, and without that oxygen – free speech – democracy will cease to exist. And that’s why we have to protect it so rigorously.

And the Goldwater Institute’s Timothy Sandefur added:

We owe it to future generations to do what is necessary to protect free speech rights…We owe it to future generations to leave America as free as we found it or freer.

The Goldwater Institute released suggested state-level legislation earlier this year that is designed to protect free speech at public universities. This legislation was discussed on the Heritage panel.

Watch this week’s panel discussion on campus free speech zones below:

Why is it important to oppose campus policies that restrict First Amendment rights?

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