GOP bill would give conservative firebrands have more rights to speak on campus



The freedom of expression making a comeback on college campuses?

New research shows a dip in the number of schools that limit the freedom of speech.

Over the past few years, colleges have rolled out stringent policies that had a chilling effect on freedom of expression on the campus and now it is the Trump card of the administration and the Republican members of Congress want to loosen these rules.

A higher-education reform bill in the House would force colleges to scale back the rules critics say have severely limited free speech on campus. The bill would give speakers, especially those considered controversial, such as Ben Shapiro, or Ann Coulter – more leniency to speak at colleges and religious groups to choose members who actually share their religious beliefs.

With 500 people present, conservative political commentator Ben Shaprio delivers an address at the University of Connecticut. UConn’s College Republicans on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, welcomed Shapiro, editor-in-chief of the conservative news and commentary site on The Daily Thread. His appearance at the University of California, Berkeley, led to protests when he spoke there last fall.

(Mark Mirko/Hartford Courant via AP)

USA. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N. C., the committee chairman and the chief author of the Promotion of Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity Through the Education Reform (BLOOM) Act, said the bill will return many “ill-conceived mandates handed down by the Obama administration” and will be replaced by policies that are the current students.

A spokesman of the Committee Education and the Workforce, told Fox News the bill would reverse overreaching rules that suppressed freedom of speech on college campuses.

“The PROSPER Law is sending a strong message to the higher education of the community that these important issues cannot be ignored and campuses across the country must do more to stand by First Amendment principles,” the spokesman said. “The PROSPER Act provides for the Congress’ intent is clear, and that students and organizations have the mechanisms needed to help protect their rights.”

The Trumpet Administration released a statement trumpeting of the bill.

“The congress should create a framework for the reform of America’s higher education law that protects academic freedom and promotes the exercise of free speech on college campuses for the faculty and the students,” the White House said.


Conservative speakers

A number of controversial conservative speakers who are invited to speak on the campus in the last few years have seen at their invitation revoked by the college administrators who feared a relapse.

The Young America’s Foundation, a group of students who invite conservative speakers on campuses across the country, said that it welcomes the bill.

“Colleges and universities routinely violate the First Amendment rights of the YAF students on the basis of viewpoint,” said the Young America Foundation spokesperson, Spencer Brown. “It is an unconstitutional practice and school administrators should be held accountable.”

Pierce College student, Kevin Shaw, 27, filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Community College District, after he was excluded from the passing of copies of a document because he is not in the designated “free speech zone” on campus.

(Photo courtesy of Dawn Bowery/FIRE)

“Free speech zones”

Another line of the bill can roll back the so-called “free speech zones” on college campuses, which critics say has allowed colleges to censor speech.

Joe Cohn, the legislation and policies of the director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, a free-speech advocacy group, told Fox News that he hopes the bill prevents.

“Free speech zones have been used to censor students from all parts of the political spectrum,” said Cohn. “We have seen them used to silence students who wanted to distribute copies of the U.S. Constitution to their classmates. We have seen them used against students who want to engage their classmates on the rights of animals, against students who wanted to protest against the National Security, the Administration, and we have seen them against the students who wanted to advocate for gun rights.”


Cohn said the FIRE is also working with Congress to strengthen campus law and the strengthening of the freedom of association, allowing college groups can choose their members and leadership positions on the basis of their values or interests.

“Expressing the sense of Congress that the free speech zones and restrictive speech codes are inherently at odds with the First Amendment and the public institutions receiving funds under the HEA, may not restrict the speech of their students,” the PROSPER law reads.

Religious freedom

The law would allow religious groups to choose people for leadership based on his or her values, that are not currently common practice on college campuses. Religious groups are now denied funds or meeting places as they don’t let students-even those who in contrast to their mission and values-a executive position.

A Christian group of students at the University of Iowa recently sued the university for discrimination after it was booted from campus for their own leaders to embrace Christian religious beliefs – including a clause on sexual morality.


“The banning of a public institution that denies a religious student organization any right, benefit, or privilege generally afforded to other student organizations on the basis of the organisation of the religious beliefs, practices, speech, the membership or the leadership standards, or standards of behavior of the received grants under the HEA,” the bill says.

The bill has drawn sharp criticism from the college administrations, who fear a loss of authority over their own campuses, and LGBT groups who see the bill as a license to discriminate.

The annual Pride Parade is replaced by a Resist March as members of the LGBT community to protest President Donald Trump in West Hollywood, California, on June 11, 2017.


David Stacy of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights group, told the New York Times, the consequences can be far-reaching.

“You’re not just talking about a small Bible college,” Stacy said at the Time. “If you think about the Catholic universities, there are a lot of people, and a good number of these universities would discriminate against same-sex student relationships.”

Foxx said that she expects the bill to make it through the House, but it has bipartisan support in the Senate to make its way to the president’s desk.

Caleb Parke is an associate editor for You can follow him on Twitter @calebparke

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