Florida Bringing Back True Freedom of Speech, Bans Liberal Free Speech Zones

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Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill Sunday eliminating “free speech zones,” which are known for restricting free speech on campuses to a certain location.

SB 4, which also enables students to levy state lawsuits against public universities that violate students’ rights to expression, cleared the Florida Senate with a 33-5 vote.

The bill previously passed the state House in an 84-28 vote, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a free speech nonprofit group.

“Students at public colleges and universities in Florida should not have their free speech quarantined by overly restrictive policies,” FIRE legislative and policy director Joe Cohn said in a news release.

“Now that Florida’s Campus Free Expression Act is law, these egregious policies of censorship must be rescinded immediately.”

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Florida is the ninth state to ban “free speech zones.”

FIRE’s executive director, Robert Shibley, mentioned in the news release his hope that the U.S. would proceed with a nationwide ban on the policies restricting student speech.

“Thanks to this legislation, students at Florida’s colleges and universities can much more freely exercise their constitutional right to free speech,” he said.

“We’re hopeful that Congress will follow this example and act to uphold the First Amendment rights of America’s students.”

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FIRE has cataloged how friendly 13 Florida universities are to free speech.

The organization judges the universities with a colored system in which a green light signifies a full embrace of free speech and a red light indicates significant resistance in terms of policies.

The nonprofit rates the University of Florida and the University of North Florida with green lights and the University of Miami and Florida State University with red lights.

The remaining seven schools have yellow lights.

“Today is a huge victory for current and future college students across the Sunshine State who will no longer be discouraged from fully expressing their ideas and beliefs,” Demetrius Minor, Florida’s coalitions director for center-right young adult advocacy group Generation Opportunity, said in a news release.

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“We thank Governor Scott, as well as Speaker Corcoran, Senate President Negron, Rep. Rommel, Sen. Baxley and others who fought hard to ensure that Orwellian “free speech zones” are a thing of the past in Florida.”

A version of this article previously appeared on The Daily Caller News Foundation website. 

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