Texas State Legislators Introduce Bill to Protect Expression at Public Universities

Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images
Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Texas state legislators have introduced a bill that would protect college student’s right to free expression at public universities in the state.

The bill is being introduced by state Rep. Briscoe Cain, who was inspired to take action after an incident during his law school years in which an event he organized featuring the author of a book about the New Black Panther Party was canceled by administrators.

According to the Texas Bureau Watchdog, Cain’s bill will protect student’s rights to engage in activities that are protected under the First Amendment.

Now Cain, along with state Rep. Matt Shaheen, has introduced a bill that would protect students’ rights to engage in activity protected by the First Amendment, including “assemblies, protests, speeches, the distribution of written material, the carrying of signs, and the circulation of petitions,” so long as the activity is lawful and doesn’t “materially and substantially disrupt the functioning of the institution.”

The measure would allow colleges and universities to “enforce reasonable restrictions on the time, place, and manner of expressive activities on the common outdoor areas of the institution’s campus,” so long as those restrictions “serve a significant institutional interest,” contain “content-neutral and viewpoint-neutral criteria,” allow students “alternative means of expression” and allow students and faculty to spontaneously assemble or hand out material without a permit or prior approval from the university.

The bill also provides students with the opportunity to file lawsuits against their universities if their right to free expression is violated.

Cain is also working to combat security-fee censorship, a topic that has extensively been written about at Breitbart News. He argues that imposing increased security fees on specific types of speech is a form of censorship.

“While that may sound nice, it treats some speech differently,” Cain said. “It’s de facto censorship.”

Texas joins a growing list of states introducing legislation to defend the free speech rights of students at public universities.

Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about education and social justice for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at tciccotta@breitbart.com