Wednesday, April 26, 2017

#TXLEGE: Senate hears bill protecting free speech on College Campuses....


"When they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them."
Acts 5:33

[Note: The hearing can be viewed here.  The consideration of the free speech bill begins at the 1:35 mark.  Our testimony can be found about ten minutes later.]

As national headlines can attest, the assault on free speech on college campuses has gotten significantly worse in recent years.  In response, several states have passed bills to protect speech on campus.  This morning, we attended a hearing for, and testified in favor of, Texas' equivalent attempt to do so.

SB 1511 (Buckingham) would prohibit "free speech zones" on campuses.  It would prohibit universities from punishing students based on political ideas.  It would also prohibit public universities from disinviting speakers based on the political content of their ideas.

TPPF's Tom Lindsay testified in favor of the bill and recited a litany of abuses against students holding views contrary to the bureaucracies that run these institution.  We largely echoed Dr. Lindsay's views, while also highlighting the mess that occurred with YCT's affirmative action bake sale at UT last year.  To be honest, we think the national headlines speak for themselves.

But there's one point we made in testimony about which we want to elaborate here: The biggest problem is that the Boards of Regents aren't doing their jobs to protect students.  If the legislature wants free speech on campus protected, they've got to stop rubber stamping Regent appointments, otherwise they're going to gut this law the same way they gutted campus carry.  It's not a coincidence that we made this exact point during our testimony for the last round of UT regents.

During dais discussion, Chairman Seliger tried to claim that the first amendment renders this bill superfluous.  Kirk Watson came up with a serious of cute lawyer distinctions designed to show that the bill was unnecessary. Seliger and Watson both chimed in to claim that the bill is toothless and thus unnecessary.

Unfortunately, according to a Senate source, Senator Buckingham had to remove most of the teeth from the bill to get it a hearing in the first place; thus Seliger is talking out of both sides of his mouth on this issue.

Bottom Line: This bill won't get to the Governor's desk this session, but we commend the Senate for starting the conversation because we have a feeling political correctness in public universities is going to get a lot worse.

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