Virginia bill tests First Amendment waters to protect students’ speech

February 3, 2014

by Bob Kellogg

A Virginia lawmaker has proposed legislation to eliminate the onerous “free speech zones” on public college campuses that have frustrated the First Amendment rights of students.

Virginia Delegate Scott Lingamfelter is sponsoring a bill to prohibit the state’s public universities from confining student speech to small or remote areas.

Robert Shibley of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, says the organization is watching the Virginia bill. He recalls a student at Modesta Junior College in California was told he could pass out copies of the U.S. Constitution – but only in a so-called “free speech zone.”

“This law would make sure nothing like that happens at Virginia’s public universities,” Shibley tells OneNewsNow.

Other states will be watching to see if this bill progress. FIRE expects others states will pass similar laws that give students “more and more protection for their constitutional rights.”

While FIRE reports that Virginia has 11 colleges and universities with serious speech code problems, Shibley says the “Old Dominion State” boasts a better First Amendment record than many other states.

View this article at One News Now