March 12, 2019 - 12:45pm
With free speech attacked under attack on college campuses across the nation, a congressman from the Sunshine State is hoping to protect it with a new proposal.
This week, U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fla., brought out the “Free Right to Expression in Education (FREE) Act.”
On Tuesday, Rooney’s office outlined what his proposal would do if it crossed the finish line.
“This legislation will prevent colleges from quarantining free expression and end unconstitutional zones used to stifle student speech. In combination with President Trump’s proposed executive order to cut off research funding to schools that do not respect freedom of speech, we can stop this erosion of our constitutional rights,” Rooney’s office noted.
Rooney, now at the start of his second term in Congress, also offered insight on why he had introduced the bill.
“Many colleges and universities restrict our First Amendment rights by limiting ‘protected’ speech to certain narrowly restricted areas instead of nurturing campus-wide free speech,” Rooney said on Tuesday. “Our freedom of speech should not be confined to designated areas. Free speech is either free or it is not. That is what the 1st Amendment is all about.
“Higher education should be a platform for the peaceful but free exchange of ideas and open debate,” Rooney added. “Learning occurs when one’s beliefs are challenged and defended. This is what the original idea of the university was based upon.”
Rooney’s bill was sent to the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee on Monday. So far, he has not reeled in any cosponsors. There is no version of the bill yet over in the U.S. Senate.