Murphy, Banks Introduce Campus Free Speech Restoration Act in the House of Representatives

August 25, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – On August 25, 2020, Congressman Greg Murphy, M.D. (NC-03) and Congressman Jim Banks (IN-3) introduced the Campus Free Speech Restoration Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate on August 6, 2020 by Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR).

Background

The Campus Free Speech Restoration Act seeks to peel back speech codes that curtail free speech at public universities. In addition, the measure obligates private higher learning institutions to honestly disclose their policies that relate to free expression and requires them to be upheld. The bill would accomplish these goals through the following mechanisms:

  • Expressing the sense of Congress that:
    • Students should be allowed to freely express and hold their own opinions with respect to politics and religion at institutions of higher learning.
    • Restrictions on speech at college campuses run contrary to the First Amendment.
    • Public universities should not infringe upon their students’ First Amendment rights.
  • Prohibiting public colleges from curbing free speech, except in viewpoint-neutral circumstances that are consistent with the First Amendment.
  • Requiring private higher learning institutions that receive federal dollars transparently lay out their policies and enforce them neutrally.
  • Establishing a review process within the Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education to evaluate campus speech policies. If it is determined that students’ First Amendment rights are being infringed upon, federal funding will be withheld from the school.
  • Allowing the Attorney General or other parties to challenge free speech restrictions at colleges and universities.

The legislation would not apply to colleges controlled by religious institutions.

“The right to free speech outlined in the First Amendment is perhaps the most important mechanism of our republic. A free and open public square to debate ideas is a hallmark of any healthy and functioning democracy,” said Murphy. “But for far too long higher learning institutions have carelessly implemented policies that curtail students’ constitutional right to free speech. It is past time that Congress act to protect our democratic values on college campuses.”

“Like so much else Americans cherish, the modern radical left wants to destroy Free Speech. This twisted worldview originated in universities, where it entrenched itself and is now moving to silence all dissent,” said Banks. “Taxpayers shouldn't be forced to fund the subversion of America's most valuable principles. Without free political expression, we can't preserve what's made America great.”

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