new hampshire state house
New Hampshire Legislators Introduce Two Bills to Protect Student and Faculty Speech

By December 21, 2015

New Hampshire state representatives Frank Edelblut and Alan Turcotte recently introduced two bills, HR 1561 and HR 1431, to protect free expression and academic freedom at the state’s public colleges and universities.

HR 1561 will be familiar to Torch readers as it is FIRE’s own Campus Free Expression Act (CAFE Act). The CAFE Act is intended to prohibit public colleges and universities from limiting speech and expressive activity to unconstitutionally restrictive and misleadingly labeled “free speech zones.” These “zones” are maintained by hundreds of public colleges and universities nationwide and restrict students’ First Amendment rights.

HR 1561 states in part:

The outdoor areas of the campuses of the component institutions of the university system of New Hampshire shall be deemed public forums. A component institution of the university system of New Hampshire may maintain and enforce reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions in service of a significant institutional interest only when such restrictions employ clear, published, content and viewpoint-neutral criteria, and provide for ample alternative means of expression. Any such restrictions shall also permit spontaneous and contemporaneous assembly.

The first CAFE Act became law in Missouri in August of this year, while a similar law has been passed in Virginia as well. Both bills passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.

The second New Hampshire bill, HR 1431, is designed to protect the academic freedom of faculty and whistleblowers.

FIRE is excited to see policymakers in New Hampshire introduce legislation to protect student and faculty speech rights at the state’s public colleges and universities. FIRE looks forward to working with students, faculty, and policymakers in the state to ensure successful passage of these two very important bills in 2016.

If you are interested in learning more about FIRE’s legislative efforts, please contact shelby@thefire.org.