Senator Blackburn: First Amendment is in Danger on College Campuses; Blackburn Introduces Campus Free Speech Resolution in the Senate

June 5, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) spoke on the Senate floor about her newly introduced resolution to encourage free speech and inclusive debate on college campuses. 

“On the eve of National Higher Education day, I am introducing the Campus Free Speech Resolution of 2019. It’s a first step in restoring sanity to free speech for American college students,” said Senator Blackburn. “It recognizes that universities should protect the free and open exchange of ideas and that freedom of speech is worth protecting in a world increasingly hostile to democracy.”

The Campus Free Speech Resolution of 2019 is cosponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.).

“Learning is nothing if not a pursuit of truth,” said Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education. “As students pursue their education, they should never face limits on what, when, where, or how they learn. They should be empowered to pursue truth through the free exchange of all ideas, especially ideas with which they may not agree. Free inquiry is an essential feature of our democracy, and this administration will continue to vigilantly protect the First Amendment.”

“We applaud the Senate's resolution,” said Nicki Neily, President of Speech First. “College campuses are the place where ideas should be vigorously debated, but sadly, the window of acceptable political discourse on campus is so narrow that students who express views outside that orthodoxy can be punished and dragged through burdensome administrative proceedings. Across the country, far too many public universities have failed to uphold their obligations under the First Amendment. The Senate's resolution is a timely reminder of those obligations and the fundamental values they protect.”

"Misleadingly titled free speech zones don't promote free speech, rather they quarantine student expression to designated areas that are often tiny and far out of sight," said Foundation for Individual Rights in Education Legislative and Policy Director Joe Cohn. "FIRE is thankful to Senator Blackburn for using this resolution to apply additional pressure on institutions to open all common outdoor areas for student speech."

Rep. Phil Roe (TN-01) introduced a companion resolution in the House of Representatives in March.

To watch the Senator’s full remarks about free speech on campus, click below or HERE.
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