January 23, 2019 | Posted in Arkansas Capitol, Legislation, Legislature | By

Today Sen. Bob Ballinger (R – Berryville) and Rep. Dan Sullivan (R – Jonesboro) filed S.B. 156, the Forming Open and Robust University Minds (FORUM) Act.

This good bill prevents public colleges and universities from squelching free speech on campus.

In some states students and faculty have faced discipline and discrimination for sharing their faith or expressing their deeply held convictions. In Jonesboro, Arkansas State University adopted policies restricting free speech to roughly 1% of campus and requiring students to obtain approval from university officials before engaging in free speech.

The restrictions prompted a lawsuit against the university. Last fall, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos publicly criticized the university’s restrictions on free speech.

S.B. 156 helps prevent public colleges and universities from imposing these unconstitutional restrictions on students and faculty. It protects students’ rights to peacefully assemble, speak, share literature, and exchange ideas.

It requires public colleges and universities to adopt policies protecting free speech on campus.

S.B. 156 is carefully worded. It does not allow violent speech, riots, harassment, or other unlawful conduct. It equally protects everyone’s right to free speech under the First Amendment.

For several months, Family Council has been working with attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom to bring this good legislation to Arkansas.

We applaud Senator Ballinger and Representative Sullivan for introducing this well-crafted Alliance Defending Freedom model bill.

You can leave a message for your State Senator at 501-682-2902 urging him or her to vote for S.B. 156 the FORUM Act.

You can leave a message for your State Representative at 501-682-6211 urging him or her to do the same.

Please thank the lead sponsors of this bill:

Senator Bob Ballinger: bob.ballinger@senate.ar.gov (870) 350-5175

Representative Dan Sullivan: dan.sullivan@arkansashouse.org (870) 275-2929

This bill could be debated in the Senate Education Committee as early as next week. We plan to keep you posted on its progress.

Photo Credit: “Old Main from the northwest, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas (autumn)” by Brandonrush – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

Jerry is the founder and president of Family Council. He began Family Council in 1989 after a successful effort to amend the Arkansas Constitution to prevent the use of public funds for abortions. He and his wife reside in Little Rock. They have four sons.