In a time when free speech advocates are sounding the alarm that a growing movement to silence opinions and speakers on colleges and universities is hindering First Amendment rights, one state recently took action to stop that trend.
Louisiana lawmakers passed SB364, a bill which protects freedom of speech on public college campuses, and Gov. John Bel Edwards signed it into law earlier this month.
The law reads in part that education leaders will:
"develop and adopt policies on free expression that contain... A statement that it is not the proper role of an institution to shield individuals from speech protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America and Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution of Louisiana, and other applicable laws, including without limitation ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive."
The director of the Alliance Defending Freedom Center for Academic Freedom, Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, weighed in on the new law.
"The free and open exchange of ideas is essential to democracy, and perhaps no place is it more important than on public university campuses," Langhofer said in a statement.
"Public colleges and universities are meant to be the marketplaces of ideas – where our future teachers, lawyers, judges, community leaders, and voters can exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms," he continued.
"This new law ensures that public universities remain these marketplaces where intellectual diversity flourishes and all students are able to engage in the exchange of ideas rather than censorship on campus," Langhofer said.
Leaders associated with the ADF Center for Academic Freedom say the goal of the organization is to preserve freedom of speech and association for students and faculty so that the sharing of different ideas is not hindered by government censorship.