Indiana takes action to protect free speech

With Governor Eric Holcomb signing House Bill 1190 on Mar. 15, Indiana now restricts taxpayer-funded universities from trampling on students' First amendment rights.

Alliance Defending Freedom praised the Governor's office for signing the bill.

With Governor Eric Holcomb signing House Bill 1190 on Mar. 15, Indiana now restricts taxpayer-funded universities from trampling on students’ First amendment rights.  

The new law designates actions that a public university may not take to infringe on free speech. These items include designating a “free speech zone” or discriminating against a student organization based on political beliefs.

Universities are now also required to protect student organizations’ “expressive activity.”

[RELATED: WATCH: Defending students’ free speech rights in the COVID era]

Additionally, universities must follow accountability measures, which include a three-part call to “(1) create and publish free expression policies; (2) submit certain reports to the governor and general assembly; and (3) make certain reports accessible on its Internet web site.”

Students are encouraged to report violations of First Amendment rights. Compensatory damages, reasonable court costs, and attorney’s fees may be granted by the court to the plaintiff should an infringement occur.

The law does allow universities to enforce reasonable time, place, and management restrictions for speech.

Alliance Defending Freedom, a “faith-based non-profit,” praised the Governor’s office for signing the bill.

“Public colleges and universities are meant to be free and open for the exchange of ideas—a place where our future teachers, lawyers, doctors, judges, community leaders, and voters can exercise their constitutionally protected freedom of speech,” ADF Senior Counsel Zach Pruitt said in a statement.

The bill passed the House of Representatives on Mar. 3 with 92 legislators voting in favor and seven abstaining. Not one lawmaker voted against the bill. 

College campuses are no stranger to attacks on free speech. 

Campus Reform’s coverage features numerous ways that public universities have attempted to regulate and monitor student speech.

[RELATED: University leadership told the student newspaper to stop printing. Students fought back and won.]

In January, for example, a university-sponsored sign at Colorado State University warned students about free speech events that could be offensive and directed impacted students to 17 different resources they could utilize to cope. 

Also in January, the Knight Foundation reported that 47% of college students felt their First Amendment rights were protected on their college campus.

Campus Reform has contacted Jordan and ADF for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

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