"I'm about to sign a law that protects free speech on college campuses. Shouldn't have to do it, First Amendment guarantees it. Now, it's law in Texas," stated Texas Governor Greg Abbott in a video that he recently posted to his Twitter feed.
On the evening of June 9, 2019, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill that guaranteed and enforced the First Amendment rights of students on public college and university campuses. "Some colleges are banning free speech on college campuses," Abbott explained.
This bill intends to eliminate "free speech zones", or areas that have been designated for political expression. These spaces are often out-of-the-way and have certain requirements and restrictions that must be followed to use them. The outdoor areas of college campuses are now to be designated as traditional public forums.
But let's ponder this. Isn't every American already guaranteed their rights--especially those concerning the First Amendment?
Just in case you needed a refresher, the First Amendment included in the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution is as follows:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
In simple terms, this amendment protects and enforces freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom to petition.
Yet there exists select corners of college campuses that are designated for the rights we were already guaranteed as Americans. Are students not able to publicly express their thoughts and opinions anywhere else on campus? Suppressing one's power to speak their mind by confining them to a free speech zone sounds restricting and controlling at best.
Of course, these “free speech zones” are soon to be a thing of the past--in Texas, at least. Texas public institutions have until August 1, 2020 to institute the changes that come with this new bill, and hopefully other states follow suit.