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Rep. Phil Roe Fighting to End ‘Free Speech Zones’ on College Campuses

Free Speech Rally
Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
TOM CICCOTTA

Republican Congressman Phil Roe from Tennessee is fighting to end “free speech zones,” which restricts political activism to certain areas on college campuses.

According to a report from Campus Reform, Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) is fighting to end unconstitutional restrictions on free speech at public colleges and universities around the country. Roe introduced House Resolution 191 aims to protect First Amendment rights on campus.

The text of the resolution highlights data from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which found that 40 percent of America’s top college have restrictive speech codes that prohibit constitutional speech.

Whereas despite the clarity of the applicable legal precedent and the vital importance of protecting our Nation’s public colleges as true “marketplaces of ideas,” the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has found that roughly 1 in 10 of America’s top colleges and universities quarantine student expression to so-called “free speech zones,” that more than 20 speakers were disinvited from speaking on campuses in 2016, and a survey of 449 schools found that almost 40 percent maintain severely restrictive speech codes that clearly and substantially prohibit constitutionally protected speech.

Roe spoke with Campus Reform’s Cabot Phillips about his efforts to protect free expression on campus. Roe recalled the lively debate that took place in the 1960s when he was a college student. “We didn’t have social media, we didn’t have the Internet…but we had free debate that’s guaranteed under the First Amendment of the Constitution.”

Roe praised President Trump for his recent executive order, which also aims to protect free speech on campuses. “I think it will have teeth. I think having them have to prove that they’re not obstructing free speech to get a grant… I like that idea,” Roe said.

“We’ve had free speech for so long, we don’t know what it’s like to live without it,” Roe added.

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