Commentary: Federal Bill May Bolster Campus Free Speech, But Will it Go Anywhere?

Nicole Divers
James G. Martin Center

Excerpt: Last month, North Carolina Congressman Greg Murphy introduced federal legislation aimed at combating censorship and protecting free speech rights at colleges and universities. The bill, the Campus Free Speech and Restoration Act, seeks to “ensure that public institutions of higher education eschew policies that improperly constrain the expressive rights of students.” It amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 by requiring campuses to uphold free speech rights in order to receive Title IV funding. Under this amendment, public universities would be explicitly prohibited from limiting “religious expression, free expression, or any other rights provided under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”

Another provision prohibits the implementation of free speech zones which limit speech to certain times and locations on campuses, among other measures. However, Murphy’s introduced bill fails to include other improvements recommended by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).