Commentary: Could a new Republican bill save campus free speech?

Teresa Manning
New York Post

Excerpt: This summer, Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC) introduced the Campus Free Speech Restoration Act, designed to enhance free expression in American universities. Murphy’s bill defines “expressive activities” to include peaceful assembly, speaking and listening, and protects them from “improperly restrictive” institutional incursions, such as speech codes, bias response teams and “free speech zones.”

However, no constitutional provision is self-enforcing. To give it effect, an injured party must sue a school. But after filing suit, that party often endures years of “lawfare” that public universities greet with a yawn. Individual lawsuits against universities are simply pebbles thrown against the citadel. Murphy’s bill addresses this problem with two innovations. First, it authorizes the Department of Education to condition Title IV federal funding on First Amendment compliance at public schools. Second, the bill creates a new position in the Department of Education to oversee the status of free speech on campus and to enforce the First Amendment.