First Amendment expanded, defended in new state laws

Thursday, April 29, 2021
 | 
Bob Kellogg (OneNewsNow.com)

'Freedom of Speech' sign held upFree speech is being protected on college campuses in Montana thanks to new state laws.

Gov. Greg Gianforte signed two bills April 15 that passed in the state legislature mostly along party lines according to The Associated Press.

Gianforte, a first-term governor, is a Republican.

One bill requires that available college funding must flow to recognized student groups that are religious, political and ideological in nature regardless if some find their views offensive.

The second bill bans campuses from creating a “free speech zone” that effectively confines First Amendment-protected activities to a designated area.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Zack Pruitt tells One News Now such zones are rare across Montana and that, he says, was the point of the bill. 

"There's nothing to prevent a teacher, administrator or dean from instituting them,” he points out. “And that's a sign of the proactive nature of this bill is to make sure not only for now but for future that free speech zones to be prohibited among Montana campuses."

"Celebrate Diversity" bannerAccording to the AP story, the funding law drew complaints from far-left groups that claim it allows discrimination. In reality, campus leftists routinely discriminate against religious and political groups -- or attempt to -- because they disagree with their views.

Rep. Mike Hopkins, who introduced both bills, did so after the University of Montana refused to sponsor a 2018 speech by Mike Adams, the late sociology professor, MSN.com reported last week.

Adams spoke to students about "The Death of Liberal Bias in Higher Education." 

"All of their concerns are completely unfounded. Nothing like that of any sort has happened in the other states that have passed this bill,” Pruitt says of the left-wing concerns. “But the reality is that any bill that protects free speech, protects free speech from both the right and the left."

The law also allows students who believe their free speech has been curtailed to sue for damages up to $75 thousand.

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