Yesterday, we brought you the story of Governor John Bel Edwards vetoing a bill that would’ve required universities to adopt robust protections for free speech on campus. The bill was sponsored by State Rep. Lance Harris (R-Alexandria).
In response, Dan Jackson wrote a column at Campus Reform telling JBE exactly where Louisiana universities are restricting speech. It turns out that Louisiana is one of the nation’s worst when it comes to protecting free speech on university campuses.
From Campus Reform:
The veto in Louisiana is especially galling to the Goldwater Institute, which collaborated with Stanley Kurtz of the Ethics and Public Policy Center to craft the model legislation that served as the framework for HB 269, along with more than a dozen similar bills that have been proposed in other states.
“While Governor Edwards maintained in his veto letter that House Bill 269 was unnecessary to provide speech protections already granted by the First Amendment, there are countless examples of free expression being denied on college campuses,” the Goldwater Institute declared in a press release. “In Louisiana, for instance, speech and assembly activities at Southeastern Louisiana University are limited to a single two-hour time period every seven days—sending the message that free speech is not welcome on campus most of the time.”
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has also kept a vigilant eye on the state of free speech at Louisiana’s public colleges and universities, and responded to Edwards’ veto statement by pointing out that it has not identified a single school in the state that does not maintain at least one policy restricting freedom of speech.
On the other hand, FIRE observes that Louisiana does have three schools with “yellow light” ratings for limited speech restrictions, and another six that have earned “red light” ratings for policies that “clearly and substantially” infringe on students’ First Amendment rights.
Louisiana State University even made it into FIRE’s list of the “10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech” in 2016, though the school managed to stay off the list published in 2017.
It seems to me that the legislation was actually needed.
There were two reasons why the legislation was vetoed. The first reason was pure spite. JBE was punishing Lance Harris for opposing his tax and spend agenda.
The second reason is that JBE doesn’t want to hurt his constituents. University administrators who support these speech restrictions are JBE voters. So are the on campus SJW mobs who see themselves as self-appointed speech police. Hell, JBE even had one of the campus SJW ringleaders as an intern.
Lance Harris’s bill was important, it should’ve been signed, and he should bring back next year.