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Tipsheet

Texas Governor Signs Law Protecting Free Speech on College Campuses

Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP, Pool

Governor of Texas Greg Abbott tweeted a video of himself on Sunday signing a law protecting free speech on college campuses. 

In the video, Abbott says that “some colleges are banning free speech on college campuses. Well, no more. Because I am about to sign a law that protects free speech on college campuses in Texas.”

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SB 18, the bill Abbott signed, establishes that “common outdoor areas” of a university are to be considered as public forums. It allows students “to assemble or distribute written material without a permit or other permission” from the university, and institutes penalties for students, student organizations, or faculty who “unduly interfere with the expressive activities of others on campus.” 

The bill also protects student organizations from being denied university services based on the organization’s viewpoint.

The bill still allows universities to impose restrictions on the time, place and manner of demonstrations as long as the restrictions are published and neutral to whatever viewpoint espoused. 

In the video, Abbott says that he “shouldn’t have to do it,” as the First Amendment guarantees free speech.  

"Now, it's law in Texas," Abbott concludes.

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As part of the bill, Texas universities must report on how they are complying with the law by 2020. 

Texas’s move to protect free speech is part of a broader movement across the country. Multiple states such as Alabama, Kentucky, South Dakota and Tennessee have signed legislation protecting free speech on college campuses.

Watch Abbott's Video Here:

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