Free Speech Zone Bills Pass

HB2615 and HB2548 passed in the Arizona House this week which guarantee the right to free speech and the right to not be relegated to a zoned area to exercise that free speech.

HB2615 passed on 47 – 11 vote. HB2548 passed on a 42 – 16 vote.

Earlier this month, Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer testified before a House committee in support of HB2548, which will ensure that Arizona public college and university students can file suit to make sure that their right to speak freely on campus, as protected under a 2011 state law, is actually enforced.

That law, the University Students’ Religious Liberty Act, ensured that public colleges and universities must prove that any restriction on student speech in the open, outdoor areas of campus or other facilities made available for student speech actually furthers a legitimate government interest that is higher than a student’s constitutionally protected freedom of speech. The law also says that the school must use the least restrictive means to accomplish that interest if it has one. But the law did not allow a private party to sue to have the law enforced. HB 2548 rectifies that by adding what is called a “private cause-of-action” clause to the law.

ADF filed  Mirelez v. Dale in federal court which involves a student who is challenging a restrictive speech zone at Paradise Valley Community College.

“I am proud that our state’s three public universities – Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, and the University of Arizona have no free speech zones,” said  HB2548 ponsor Paul Boyer. “Neither should any of our community colleges, some of which have elected to implement these zones. This is not as the U.S. Constitution nor our Founders intended, and thus we must permanently eliminate these ‘zones’ entirely.”

“I am shocked that this did not receive unanimous support from both Democrats and Republicans,” stated Rep. Mark Finchem. “Those who voted against free speech are the very same people who scream about transparency and disclosure on the House floor. It is the for all to respect the inalienable rights of the individual.”

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