New student speech protections proposed

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would have offered new protection for students’ free speech rights.H.R. 2407, also known as the Freedom of Speech and Association on Campus Act of 1996, sought to withhold funds from public and private universities that punish students for engaging in expression that would be protected by the First and 14th amendments. Rep. Robert Livingston (R-La.) introduced the legislation in September.Quin Hillyer, Livingston’s press secretary, said the representative introduced the legislation because he was “concerned that students’ free speech and association rights were being abridged.”The bill was sent to the House Economic and Educational Opportunities Committee. It was not acted on and died when Congress adjourned a month later. Hillyer said “the bill was put out there so its supporters would have something to work with over the [Congressional] break.”Hillyer expects the bill will be reintroduced sometime early in the new Congress.