Georgia protects free speech on college campuses

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R) recently signed the 'Forming Open and Robust University Minds (FORUM) Act.'

The new law, which protects free speech on the state's public college campuses, bans designated 'free speech zones.'

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R) recently signed the "Forming Open and Robust University Minds (FORUM) Act." 

The new law, which protects free speech on the state's public college campuses, bans designated "free speech zones." 

"[P]ublic institutions of higher education shall not create 'free speech zones' or other designated areas of campus outside of which expressive activities are prohibited," the bill states.

"Unrestricted outdoor areas of campuses of public institutions of higher education in this state shall be deemed public forums for the campus community," the new law reads. 

[RELATED: Oklahoma to form committee to protect campus free speech]

Legal experts have questioned the constitutionality of free speech zones. According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), free speech zones limit the rights of students and faculty.

"The idea of a 'free speech zone' might sound appealing in theory," FIRE states on its website. "But in practice, these zones function more like free speech quarantines, banishing student and faculty speakers to outposts that may be tiny, on the fringes of campus, or (frequently) both." 

Nearly 90% of colleges and universities "maintain policies that restrict- or too easily could restrict- students and faculty expression," FIRE reports

[RELATED: Free speech zones galore: 5 Times students' First Amendment rights were violated on campus in 2019]

Georgia Democrats opposed the legislation. 

State Senators Sandra Scott, Skim Schofield, and Viola Davis penned an Apr. 19 statement labeling the FORUM Act among the "ugly" bills passed in the last year. 

In a statement to Campus Reform, Kemp Press Secretary Katie Byrd referred Campus Reform to the 2021 Supreme Court case Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski, which decided a Christian student in Georgia could sue his university for using free speech zones to silence his Christian beliefs. 

Campus Reform covered the case involving Chike Uzuegbunam and Georgia Gwinnett College in March 2021. 

Campus Reform reached out to FIRE and Senators Scott, Schofield, and Davis for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.