News

N.C. lawmakers to take up GOP-championed campus free speech bill

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest

A conservative-championed campus free speech bill will get its first substantial debate in the N.C. General Assembly this week.

Members of a House education committee are scheduled to consider House Bill 527 Wednesday afternoon, draft legislation pushed by Republicans in recent years to curtail demonstrations against conservative speeches on college campuses.

The bill requires neutrality from UNC universities and, notably, prohibits campus protests that, according to the draft, “infringe upon the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity.”

The GOP-sponsored bill comes at the behest of Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who announced his intentions to urge such reforms this February.  Such legislation has the backing of right-wing pundits who say conservative speakers have been harassed on generally left-leaning college campus, but it’s likely to earn the scrutiny of groups like the ACLU.

Anyone who feels as if their rights are violated would have the right to sue the university for damages and court costs under the GOP bill.

The GOP legislation also creates a so-called Committee on Free Expression, which would include 11 members of the Republican-controlled UNC Board of Governors. That committee would prepare annual reports detailing:

A description of any barriers to or disruptions of free expression within the constituent institutions.

A description of the administrative handling and discipline relating to these disruptions or barriers.

A description of substantial difficulties, controversies, or successes in maintaining a posture of administrative and institutional neutrality with regard to political or social issues.

Any assessments, criticisms, commendations, or recommendations the Committee sees fit to include.

Furthermore, campus orientation would be required to include a lesson on campus free speech as well.

Officials with the ACLU of N.C. told Policy Watch they are tracking the legislation closely.

“The constitutional right to free expression and assembly is fundamental to our democracy,” ACLU-N.C. Policy Director Sarah Gillooly said in a statement Wednesday. “Proposals to enshrine those rights into state law must be clear and precise. We look forward to discussing the bill with lawmakers in the days to come.”

Check Also

Report: Charlotte, Matthews joust over municipal charter school bill

A brewing state bill that would allow the ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

“I could choose to do anything else with $50.” But Anca Stefan, a high school English teacher in a D [...]

The Cape Fear River is damaged, contaminated by decades of human malfeasance, negligence and ignoran [...]

Legislative Services Officer Paul Coble appears to be violating the state public records law and is [...]

This morning, the state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the pivotal case of Silver, et al. [...]

The post Snail mail appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

America is often touted as a nation of laws, and not of men. But it seems that today some lawmakers [...]

65 - number of days since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Flo [...]

In Washington, legal and political walls may be closing in on the slow motion train wreck that is th [...]

Now hiring

NC Policy Watch is now hiring a Managing Editor – click here for more info.