ADF: Ohio bill sends right message on campus free speech

Director of ADF Center for Academic Freedom, other experts, to testify regarding FORUM bill

Friday, November 09, 2018

WHO:  ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, lawyer and political commentator Ben Shapiro, and other free speech experts

WHAT:  Testifying before the House Higher Education Committee at the Ohio Statehouse on HB 758, the FORUM Act

WHEN:  Tuesday, Nov. 13, beginning at approximately 1 p.m. EST

WHERE:  Ohio Statehouse, 1 Capitol Square, Columbus, House Higher Education Committee, Room 115, or watch via live stream

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer will testify Tuesday before the Ohio Community and Family Advancement Committee on the FORUM Act (HB 758), a bill that protects the rights of Ohio college students to freely speak on public college and university campuses. The testimony will also be streamed live online.

The bill, known as the Forming Open and Robust University Minds (FORUM) Act, ensures that a college or university that receives state funding may not ban students from engaging in expressive activity on campus, so long as the student’s conduct is lawful and does not disrupt the functioning of the college or university.

The FORUM Act also bans the creation of “free speech zones” or the designation of outdoor areas on campus where expressive activities are prohibited. The act also clarifies that any “reasonable time, place, and manner” restrictions to speech or expression must be published and be enforced in a viewpoint-neutral manner, and not directed toward a specific student or group.

“The free and open exchange of ideas is essential to democracy, and perhaps no place is it more important than on public university campuses,” Langhofer said. “Public colleges and universities are meant to be marketplaces of ideas—where our future teachers, lawyers, judges, community leaders, and voters can exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms. Unfortunately, public universities are some of the most ideologically intolerant places in the entire country. This bill will help ensure that public universities again become places where intellectual diversity flourishes and all students are able to engage in the exchange of ideas rather than censorship on campus. We commend Ohio lawmakers for considering legislation that protects students’ First Amendment freedoms.”

Other experts testifying at the hearing include Ben Shapiro, a conservative commentator and lawyer whose presentations on college campuses have been met with violence and obstruction, and Ellie Wittman, a Students for Life president at Miami University of Ohio who challenged the university’s policy requiring “trigger warnings” on an exhibit expressing her group’s pro-life views.

Also testifying are the bill’s sponsors, State Representatives Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, and Andrew Brenner, R-Powell; Tyler Coward, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education legislative counsel; Aaron Baer, Citizens for Community Values president; and Elle Lamb, president of Young Americans for Freedom at the Ohio State University.

  • Pronunciation guide: Langhofer (LANG’-hoff-ur)

The ADF Center for Academic Freedom is dedicated to ensuring freedom of speech and association for students and faculty so that everyone can freely participate in the marketplace of ideas without fear of government censorship.