Text: H.Res.307 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (05/03/2017)

[Congressional Bills 115th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[H. Res. 307 Introduced in House (IH)]


  1st Session
H. RES. 307

   Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives relating to 
 protecting freedom of speech, thought, and expression at institutions 
                          of higher education.



                              May 3, 2017

Mr. Roe of Tennessee (for himself, Mr. Allen, Mr. Rokita, Mr. Grothman, 
   Mr. Lewis of Minnesota, Mr. Byrne, and Mr. Raskin) submitted the 
following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Education 
 and the Workforce, and in addition to the Committee on the Judiciary, 
for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case 
for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of 
                        the committee concerned



   Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives relating to 
 protecting freedom of speech, thought, and expression at institutions 
                          of higher education.

Whereas in Healy v. James, 408 U.S. 169 (1972), the Supreme Court of the United 
        States held that the First Amendment applies in full force on public 
        college and university campuses;
Whereas in Widmar v. Vincent, 454 U.S. 263 (1981), the Supreme Court of the 
        United States observed that ``the campus of a public university, at 
        least for its students, possesses many of the characteristics of a 
        public forum'';
Whereas lower Federal courts have also held that the open, outdoor areas of 
        public college and university campuses are public forums;
Whereas section 112(a)(2) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 
        1011a(a)(2)) contains a sense of Congress noting that ``an institution 
        of higher education should facilitate the free and open exchange of 
        ideas, students should not be intimidated, harassed, discouraged from 
        speaking out, or discriminated against, students should be treated 
        equally and fairly, and nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to 
        modify, change, or infringe upon any constitutionally protected 
        religious liberty, freedom, expression, or association'';
Whereas despite the clarity of the applicable legal precedent and the vital 
        importance of protecting our Nation's public colleges as true 
        ``marketplaces of ideas,'' the Foundation for Individual Rights in 
        Education has found that roughly 1 in 10 of America's top colleges and 
        universities quarantine student expression to so-called ``free speech 
        zones,'' that more than 20 speakers were disinvited from speaking on 
        campuses in 2016, and a survey of 449 schools found that almost 40 
        percent maintain severely restrictive speech codes that clearly and 
        substantially prohibit constitutionally protected speech;
Whereas according to the American Civil Liberties Union, ``Speech codes adopted 
        by government-financed state colleges and universities amount to 
        government censorship, in violation of the Constitution. And the ACLU 
        believes that all campuses should adhere to First Amendment principles 
        because academic freedom is a bedrock of education in a free society.'';
Whereas in December 2014, the University of Hawaii at Hilo settled a lawsuit for 
        $50,000 after it was sued in Federal court for prohibiting students from 
        protesting the National Security Agency, unless those students were 
        standing in the institution's tiny, flood-prone free speech zone;
Whereas in July 2015, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, settled a 
        lawsuit for $35,000 after it was sued in Federal court for prohibiting a 
        student from handing out flyers about animal abuse outside of the 
        school's free speech zone, comprising less than 0.01 percent of campus;
Whereas in May 2016, a student-plaintiff settled her lawsuit against Texas' 
        Blinn College for $50,000 after administrators told her she needed 
        ``special permission'' to advocate for Second Amendment rights outside 
        of the school's tiny free speech zone;
Whereas in September 2016, two students from the Kellogg Community College in 
        Battle Creek, Michigan, were arrested for handing out copies of the 
        Constitution while talking with their fellow students on a sidewalk;
Whereas a policy of the Los Angeles Community College District--the largest 
        community college district in the country--declares that all of its 
        campuses ``are considered non-public forums, except for those portions 
        of each college designated as Free Speech Areas are hereby designated as 
        limited public forums, which designation may be removed and reverted to 
        non-public forum designation by the Board of Trustees.'';
Whereas in March 2017, a student sued officials of Los Angeles Pierce College 
        and the Los Angeles Community College District after administrators at 
        Pierce College told him that he could not distribute Spanish-language 
        copies of the Constitution on campus unless he was standing in the 
        college's free speech zone, which comprises approximately .003 percent 
        of the total area of Pierce College's 426 acres;
Whereas the States of Virginia, Missouri, Arizona, Kentucky, Colorado, and Utah 
        have passed legislation prohibiting public colleges and universities 
        from quarantining expressive activities on the open outdoor areas of 
        campuses to misleadingly labeled free speech zones;
Whereas free speech zones have been used to restrict political speech from all 
        parts of the political spectrum, and have thus inhibited the free 
        exchange of ideas at campuses across the country; and
Whereas in March 2017, Middlebury College students and protesters from the 
        community prevented an invited speaker from giving his presentation and 
        then attacked his car and assaulted a professor as the two attempted to 
        leave, resulting in the professor suffering a concussion: Now, 
        therefore, be it
    Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives 
            (1) free speech zones and restrictive speech codes are 
        inherently at odds with the freedom of speech guaranteed by the 
        First Amendment of the Constitution; and
            (2) institutions of higher education should facilitate and 
        recommit themselves to protecting the free and open exchange of