Cotton, McConnell Introduce College Campus Free Speech Act

Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) introduced a bill to ensure that public universities properly comply with students' First Amendment rights.

Cotton and McConnell, along with Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R., Ga.) and Kevin Cramer (R., S.D.), introduced the Free Speech Restoration Act on Thursday. The bill will block federal funding to public schools that do not comply with federal regulations on such practices as free speech zones and speech codes. The bill allows the federal government to revoke funding to private universities that are insufficiently transparent about their own expression policies.

"The right to free expression is among the most precious of our liberties," Cotton’s office said in a press release. "The Campus Free Speech Restoration Act will ensure that this much-neglected liberty is restored and protected on our nation’s college campuses."

The bill also proposes a reporting process allowing students to file complaints if private universities fail to comply with their own speech codes. If the evidence of a violation is sufficient, these complaints could trigger a federal investigation. The bill, however, contains exemptions for religious institutions of higher education.
Senator of Arkansas Tom Cotton by Michael Vadon is licensed under Flickr CC BY 2.0
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