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Feb. 5 – Sen. Bill Ligon files Georgia Campus Free Speech Act

By Lou Phelps, Coastal Empire News

February 5. 2018 – Glynn County State Sen. Bill Ligon has filed SB 339, a campus free-speech bill he states is based on the template published by Arizona’s Goldwater Institute.

As reported by Stanley Kurtz in the National Review, the conservative political magazine, he co-authored the model along with Jim Manley and Jonathan Butcher, Kurtz writes.

“The Goldwater proposal, already the most comprehensive legislative prototype, was recently updated to include provisions on speaker security fees and free-association rights for student organizations. So the Georgia bill is on track to become one of the most far-reaching campus free-speech laws in the nation.” 

After filing the bill, Ligon stated that current college campuses were becoming “politically correct speech zones,” and shared incidents at two Georgia universities that last year received “rebukes” from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education for unconstitutional restrictions of student speech.

In testimony on the Bill Ligon said, “The Georgia Legislature needs to ensure that our public colleges and universities protect the rights of all students and speakers to peacefully express their viewpoints without fear of being shouted down by protesters or reprimanded for what the administration deems as politically incorrect speech.”

Also signing on as bill sponsors were Senate Education Committee Chair Lindsey Tippens.

The legislation puts responsibility for insuring free speech on a university’s Boards of Trustees, versus the administration.   “With the governing body that stands above them running oversight, administrators will have to think twice before creating restrictive speech codes or allowing anti-free-speech demonstrators to shout-down visiting speakers. And a bad oversight report just might prompt legislators to reduce a university’s yearly appropriation,” writes Kurtz.

“Bills that direct administrators to report on their own performance will not be as effective as Goldwater-based bills. The Goldwater model’s strongest provision is the requirement that students who shout-down or silence the speech of others a second time must be punished with at least a suspension. Wisconsin has adopted a discipline policy based on this model, and the results so far have been encouraging,” he adds.

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