In a press release yesterday, North Carolina’s Lt. Governor Dan Forest announced his intentions to work with the state legislature on the Restore Campus Free Speech Act.
This act is arguably timely, given the recent riots at UC Berkeley and the proliferation of First Amendment strangling “safe spaces” on college campuses nationwide.
In the release, Lt. Governor Dan Forest says that, “No student or guest of a university should ever feel threatened to exercise their First Amendment right of free speech, nor should they be prohibited from doing so. I look forward to working with the Legislature and Board of Governors to ensure one of our most basic American freedoms is afforded to every person on our public university campuses.”
The Restore Campus Free Speech Act includes four main points which are intended to, “protect students, professors and invited speakers across the entire UNC System of schools.”
1) A new policy on free expression that would nullify any restrictive speech codes.
2) A discipline policy that would punish students who shout down visiting speakers or deprive others of their right to free expression, a tactic commonly known as the “hecklers’ veto”.
3) A provision that allows anyone that has had their free speech rights infringed to sue the university and recover court costs and attorney fees.
4) A requirement that freshman orientation include a session on the promotion of free expression on campus.
Lt. Governor Forest’s press release also notes that this act will not impair the way professors direct their classrooms or stop protesters from peacefully assembling. The release also says that this act will not limit academic freedom of professors to teach or express his/her own views in class.
It also mentions not limiting professors from expressing their views in writing. In recent months, Professor Mike Adams of UNC Wilmington has come under fire for expressing his views in writing in the columns he has posted at the conservative news site, TownHall.
Stanley Kurtz writes about this proposal at National Review and his own involvement.
Kurtz writes, “I have been working with Dan Forest’s office since shortly after I laid out “A Plan to Restore Free Speech On Campus” here at NRO in late 2015. Forest and his staff provided critical early encouragement and support for the approach that eventuated in the Goldwater proposal, and in what will shortly be the proposed North Carolina Restore Campus Free Speech Act.”
The Restore Campus Free Speech Act has not yet been filed at the North Carolina General Assembly.