Arizona Shuts Down College Campus Free Speech Zones in the Name of Free Speech

State Rep. Anthony Kern said he handed out materials as part of a church group on the Glendale Community College campus for several years without any trouble.

But one year, “all of a sudden they came up with this free speech zone which was way away from the people,” the Republican told the Arizona Capitol Times.

That inspired Kern to introduce House Bill 2615, which broadens campus “free speech zones” to the entire public college campus as opposed to designated areas. It provides students the right to exercise their First Amendment rights without concerns about the time, place and manner unless the public higher education institution can prove the restriction is reasonable and justified.

“The First Amendment right of free speech is a bedrock founding principle of our Republic,” said Gov. Doug Ducey (R) when he signed the legislation this month. “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,” Ducey added.

Gov. Ducey also signed House Bill 2548 which could help people like Brittany Mirelez.

The Paradise Valley Community College student filed suit against PVCC after administrators prevented her from recruiting on campus for a Young Americans for Liberty chapter.

Mirelez’s suit claimed that by confining her to a pre-designated free speech zone, her First Amendment rights had been violated.

HB 2548 gives students the right to file lawsuits against colleges and universities, and to receive an award judgment if the court finds that the university or community college has restricted the student’s speech.