How Does Your State Measure Up On Student Free Speech?

Authored by Casey Mattox via Alliance Defending Freedom,

More than four decades ago, the Supreme Court made it clear that public college students do not sacrifice their constitutional rights when they arrive on campus, finding “no room for the view that … First Amendment protections should apply with less force on college campuses than in the community at large.”

Yet the reality of most students does not reflect the promise of the “marketplace of ideas.” Universities are regulating what students may say, when and where they can say it, and even who will speak for them. Increasingly, state legislatures are responding by enacting laws to protect student free speech.

We are pleased to release today a review of these state laws – highlighting the states that have protected free speech on their state-funded campuses … and those that have a lot of work to do.

The Problem

For decades, universities have enacted “speech codes” to regulate student expression. These policies limit what students may say and often take the form of “harassment,” “civility,” or similar policies that lump constitutionally protected speech in with true threats, harassment, and other unprotected speech. For instance, just last year, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) successfully challenged an Iowa State policy that deemed speech “harassment” if other students thought it was not “legitimate” or “necessary” or “lacked a constructive purpose.” Despite these policies being clearly unconstitutional, they are very common.

In addition to restricting what students may say, many universities have also strictly limited when and where students may speak – often combining these limits with requirements that administrators approve student speech or literature distribution in advance. North Carolina State required students to notify the administration five days in advance of any oral or written communication anywhere on campus until we sued and a federal court ordered the policy changed. And one school has even arrested Young Americans for Liberty members for distributing the Constitution on their campus.

Finally, free speech is only free if students decide who speaks for them. Students regularly join together with like-minded students to advocate for any number of religious, political, or other causes, building community with one another and enriching the campus environment through their advocacy. Like all student groups, they seek to elect leaders who actually share the views that the group intends to promote. But some universities have tried to prevent religious and political student organizations from having that choice.

Why It Matters

Free speech on campus affects all of us. Today’s college students are tomorrow’s legislators, judges, teachers, and voters.

The lessons they are learning about how the First Amendment works will impact our future because what happens on campus will not stay on campus.

Indeed, the Supreme Court has even warned that if we do not protect free speech on campus, “our civilization will stagnate and die.” As dramatic as that sounds, when two-thirds of all Americans now attend college it is only natural that our broader culture will be shaped by what we learn about the value of free speech and religious freedom in those formative years.

How States Are Responding

While the First Amendment protects free speech, universities continue to violate these core constitutional freedoms. The ADF Center for Academic Freedom has litigated federal lawsuits against over a dozen colleges and universities in the last year alone. And we have a 90 percent success rate in challenging these violations of students’ First Amendment rights. If you’re a student, you should know your rights, exercise them, and ensure that your campus is respecting the First Amendment.

Appalled that their public institutions are suppressing rather than supporting free speech and association, states are increasingly enacting legislation to ensure that public universities affirm and protect those values. There are a number of model bills – all of which have their merits. But the American Legislative Exchange Council’s new “FORUM Act” would address all three of these threats to student free speech: ending speech codes, speech zones, and violations of students’ freedom of association. The legislation would also allow students to pursue legal action in state or federal court when their rights are violated.

As state legislatures consider ways to address the threats to free speech on their tax-funded campuses, we are pleased to provide this guide to current state laws protecting the rights of free speech and association on public university campuses. It is our hope that we will have to update this information frequently as more states join the fight to defend the First Amendment on our campuses, teaching students to know their own constitutional rights and respect the constitutional rights of others.


effendi Sat, 09/16/2017 - 21:54 Permalink

seems sad  that states are passing laws to protect what should already be protected by the constitution. What's next? laws by states to protect the right to open carry or laws requiring money be of gold and silver?

J S Bach effendi Sat, 09/16/2017 - 22:08 Permalink

We shouldn't even be using the word "university" anymore.  They're leftist indoctrination centers... pure and simple.  The ONLY speech that's prohibited is that of right-wing viewpoints.  That proves the point.  Try with all your might to convince your kids to forego these brainwashing diploma mills along with the added $50,000 debt bonus.

In reply to by effendi

Never One Roach J S Bach Sun, 09/17/2017 - 02:05 Permalink

FIRE Student Network (FSN)Support free speech on your campus The FIRE Student Network (FSN) is a coalition of students and faculty members who recognize the importance of advancing civil liberties on their campuses.Signing up for the FSN is free!I heard the head of this group speak and he is defending a number of students against their universities when their Constitutional rights have been violated. It's a shame the ACLU has turned into a soros funded far left organization. It originally had the role of protecting people's civil rights. But no more; ACLU is now an arm of the far left soros funeded groups that picks whom they defend and the ACLU has clearly shown conservtives and Con Law advocates are NOT in that group.

In reply to by J S Bach

BidnessMan J S Bach Sun, 09/17/2017 - 10:13 Permalink

Most private brick and mortar colleges without a 9 figure endowment will go bankrupt in the next 10 years. Same for 2nd and 3rd tier public colleges. The left wing faculty will be like rats in a sinking ship. The university landscape in 2030 will be VERY different.

Same for public K-12. De facto government paid day care for working Parents. The factory education model with lots of mediocre teachers droning on in front of 30 kids is doomed.

In reply to by J S Bach

ScratInTheHat effendi Sat, 09/16/2017 - 22:11 Permalink

The COTUS hasn’t protected anything other than the Federal Government since 1865. It was supposed to protect the States from that FG. The States should have the right to do anything that the States didn’t give the Federal Government the power to do. That being said the People of that State shouldn’t put up with that State doing any of this crap!

In reply to by effendi

Moustache Rides Michael Musashi Sun, 09/17/2017 - 13:00 Permalink

Except if you smoke marijuana.  Any amount is a felony.  Other than that it's freedom is almost unparalled in the U.S.  I did find out recently that Missouri has concealed carry without a permit now too.  I'm going to try to head that way in the next few years and scoop up some land if I can.  The dryness, excessive heat, and brightness of Az is too much for me.  I grew up in PA.  MO is more like I'm used too.But I digress.

In reply to by Michael Musashi

Blythes Master _triplesix_ Sun, 09/17/2017 - 10:50 Permalink

Yup! I warned motherfuckers when we moved here in '10. Out of a dozen or so, 1 listend and got into heavy metal and bought a boat, wink wink. The others laughed in my face and said my pension will be fine, your tin foil hat is crooked.

These are the same mfers that are now wailing about their retirements as Frankfort is trying to grapple with reality and make some tough cuts going forward.

I laugh at them and say, you should've listened to me back then. I tried to warn you, and you mocked me, dumbass.

You can't fix stupid and there is plenty of that to go around here.

His name, it was Seth Rich.

In reply to by _triplesix_

WTFUD Sat, 09/16/2017 - 22:29 Permalink

'Today's students are tomorrow's doctors, judges (lol) . . . . '

Today's students are tomorrow's burger-flippers, dealers, homeless (lol) . . .

Skull&Bones rule roost at Ivy Towers H/Q son. Ok the odd bod'll make it up the ladder, however, a 4 year investment in a mediocre programme at a mediocre college is plain dumb and just subsidises some stale lecturer who has no idea about the marketplace or a cheesy grinning Administrator who's all about the numbers.

I could've been a contender if it wasn't for a weakness for the flesh, booze & blow, darn . . i may be in the gutter but i'm looking up at the stars.

wisehiney Sun, 09/17/2017 - 00:18 Permalink

gUESS WHAT Y'ALL,Rich ain't money.And.If you play some old school bad ass American rock and roll.Your definition.And lay flat on your back In a place out in the countryAnd gaze at the skywhere there is no light pollutionstars from horizon to horizonyou will wonderwhat the fuck, what the fuck, what the fuck  is that splashing right beside my heada militant fucking longnose gardoes not frighten me but a big badass bull beaver,who is more than certain that this fucking fragrantstarlit holeis his.will make you second guess yourselfwisely i'd say

Rebelrebel7 Sun, 09/17/2017 - 03:41 Permalink

Antifada protestors claim that they are exercising their right to assemble and their right to free speech in violent and disruptive protests to speech, or speakers that disagree with them. That is not in the spirit of free speech or the right to assemble. That is in the spirit of an oppressive fascist militia. Intellectuals, which they clearly ARE NOT, would make a request to  the Dean to hold a public speech the following day and offer an intellectual rebuttal to the speaker that they disagreed with.

hooligan2009 Sun, 09/17/2017 - 04:28 Permalink

libtard socialism is a crime against the future living standards of americans in terms of freedom of expression and ability to support those less fortunate that do not cause their own problems.the crime is being perpetrated by those who do not wish to work and encouraged by tenured educators that have no intention of providing value for tax payers dollars, when they can live a corrupt life style of stealing from everyone to sponsor the welfare state.even if 20 trillion of government debt and 45 trillion of unfunded liabiities does not reveal the absolute corruption of libtard socialism, the interest on the debt rising from the current 300 billion to over a trillion in the next ten years should be sufficient.the interest alone is currently the same as the amount of pensions paid to federal workers and will overtake that spent on "income security" in the next year. whether it will overtake that spent on medicare/medicaid and social security (one trillion bucks each) in the next five or ten years depends on the actions of politicians today to reform entitilements (that is, cut them by 50%).the crimes of fraud and corruption that are the inevitable corrollary of libtard socialism (and enabled by central banks around the world) has to stop before it takes half, then the entirey of all taxes, just to service the debt the corruption represents.

Obamananke Sun, 09/17/2017 - 07:28 Permalink

My son is 17 college has been a topic of dicussion alot lately. I never went to college and do pretty well being a contractor. To well for financial aid not well enough to afford college. This whole system is really making me bitter. I do not want him to come out 100,000 plus in the hole then have to work his ass off to pay off his loans and get taxed and regulated to death to pay for all the lazy people that know how to consume more than they produce. Bottom line is I do not know the answer other than I do not want him going to a left wing education center. My job is very stressful and phsycically draining so i would prefer he does not follow.

Faeriedust Obamananke Sun, 09/17/2017 - 13:45 Permalink

Ask him what HE wants to do.  Seriously.  The choice of career dictates the need for education or lack thereof.  And encourage him to play to his strengths.  This would not be a topic for discussion and anxiety if he had a burning desire to be a doctor or lawyer, would it?  Never assume that there are only two options.  Anybody who tells you that is trying to shoehorn you into one of them for their own advantage.

In reply to by Obamananke

The Divided St… Sun, 09/17/2017 - 08:41 Permalink

It seems to me, that with allllll of the free information out there, not to mention free mentoring, etc., that unless you plan on being a doctor, lawyer, or an engineer.... college is a waste of time and money these daze.I know very successfull business owners (myself included) that never went to college, and/or even dropped out of high school!!!I could be wrong... But I also know plenty of people, both young and old, whose degrees aren't workin for them at all here in USSA in 2017.

Faeriedust The Divided St… Sun, 09/17/2017 - 13:37 Permalink

If you have the capital to start a business, then you can get all the education you want or need on the internet.  If, however, you have to compete with the rest of humanity for a JOB, then you have to have a piece of paper (backed by online verification at the institution, unfortunately).  For most positions other than "strong of back, weak of mind" gruntwork, the college degree is the first and simplest way for employers to eliminate 90% of applicants and reduce the pool of applications they have to wade through.

In reply to by The Divided St…

sheikurbootie Sun, 09/17/2017 - 09:21 Permalink

1st Amendment -Right to peaceably assemble.Antifa is not peaceful.  Protestors in St. Louis are not peaceful.  Crack their fucking skulls.I don't understand the protestor's rock, bottle, urine throwing, flag staff spearing, carrying shields, etc.  The first violent action should end their right to assemble.Peaceful protest and march all you want.

Faeriedust sheikurbootie Sun, 09/17/2017 - 13:34 Permalink

When they peacefully gathered in the Occupy protests, they were received by police in jackboots and riot control gear, armored vehicle rollovers, teargas and cavalry maneuvers.  They therefore organized countermeasures based on ancient infantry tactics as advocated by numerous individuals with backgrounds in historical recreation.  Note that Roman infantry defenses are by and large passive and defensive unless the police ATTACK with substantial violence.  The rock-throwing and of course Molotov cocktails were initiated by Black Block during the early anti-WTO demonstrations.  Urine tossing was started by protesters for medical care of HIV victims and other serious diseases who were being left to rot by the American medical disaster.  Since left-wingers travel in interlocking circles, the techniques have been shared around.As for keeping it peaceful, be realistic.  No powerful minority elite (i.e. Banksters and Techboys) has ever abdicated power without a demonstration of force.  The Vietnam War was ended because trained veterans threatened to revolt and soldiers under arms were at the point of mutiny.  Gandhi's nonviolent resistance was backed up by millions of potentially violent followers whose eruption was certain if he were violently removed.  While the oligarchs behind American government may once have felt some emotional pull to protect and care for its sheeple, such sentimentalism has long since been replaced by sociopathic cynicism.  Peaceful protest and march all you want, it will change nothing and you lose the time and energy you have wasted.  Such protests are good for long summer "days of love" if you're having a good time, but they get absolutely nothing done.

In reply to by sheikurbootie

aardvarkk Faeriedust Sun, 09/17/2017 - 21:43 Permalink

Tell it to someone who wasn't watching those asshats riot, throw rocks, crap in public, scare the crap out of onlookers, etc. as it was happening. The ones to be careful of now are the former Teacher Partiers.  They are the ones who actually did things nonviolently, and got slandered and libeled as a result.  If some of them got pissed, they would have a moral right, if not legal, to consider raising a little hell.  Doubt they will though unless it gets worse.  They have WAY more respect for themselves and others than the "occupier" dipshits.

In reply to by Faeriedust

Boubou Sun, 09/17/2017 - 12:00 Permalink

?Radical student movements and ANTI-FA have started up a violent campaign to eliminate everything in our daily life which  reminds us of our iniquitous racist past.High on the list are cotton, sugar,  rubber and tobacco.Under this proposal,  the harvesting, use and mention of these materials is to banned absolutely.Later, the list will be extended to cabins, the blues, trad jazz, yard birds, banjos, spirituals, tap dancing , Africa and the rivers Mississippi and Jordan.They warn that any departure in word or deed will constitute hate speech.