PHOENIX – Governor Doug Ducey signed two bills today, protecting free speech in Arizona for college students and for the general public.
House Bill 2615 broadens campus “free speech zones” to the entire public college campus as opposed to designated areas. It provides students the right to exercise free speech without concerns about the time, place and manner unless the public higher education institution can prove the restriction is reasonable and justified. Additionally, it gives students the right to file action in court and to receive an award judgment if the court finds that the university or community college has restricted the student’s speech.
House Bill 2548 includes similar language, but additionally, it adds a misdemeanor penalty to any person who obstructs another person’s right to gain access and attend a government meeting, hearing or political event.
“The First Amendment right of free speech is a bedrock founding principle of our Republic,” said Governor Ducey. “Likewise, part of the university experience is to be able to express diverse views, openly, without fear of retribution or intimidation – and to be exposed to other views and perspectives, even if they aren’t politically correct or popular. These bills protect free speech throughout our college campuses, and also ensure an individual’s right to engage in free speech isn’t shut down by someone else who disagrees with his or her perspective.”