The Corner

PC Culture

Sandy Salmon’s Iowa Campus Free-Speech Act

Representative Sandy Salmon, along with ten co-sponsors, has introduced House File 276, a campus free-speech bill based on a model published by Arizona’s Goldwater Institute. (I co-authored that model, along with Jim Manley and Jonathan Butcher.) The Iowa legislature is considering other campus free-speech bills, but Salmon’s model includes what the others do, and more.

Only HF 276 has real teeth when it comes to critical issues like discipline for shout-downs and other suppression of speech. At the same time, Salmon’s bill grants students robust due process rights in a way that other proposed bills do not.

The Salmon bill also includes an oversight system controlled by state-university regents and trustees, the bosses of administrators. Knowing that their bosses (the regents) can potentially submit a critical annual oversight report to their funders (the legislature) will lend backbone to administrators faced with shout-downs or other forms of speech suppression.

A bill protecting student groups from discrimination based on their sincerely held beliefs has already passed the Iowa state senate. That’s good news, especially for traditionally Christian groups that too often suffer discrimination. Salmon’s House proposal provides the same protection for student groups, but overall is a stronger and more comprehensive solution to the campus free-speech crisis.

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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