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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Michigan lawmakers want to suspend or expel students who infringe on First Amendment

Perhaps the U.S. Constitution still counts for some people, particularly those of us who believe in freedom of speech. It's one thing to have a different opinion than another person, and it's okay to express that opinion, but it isn't okay to suppress the speech of that person either by rioting or in some way preventing that person from speaking, as happened to Ann Coulter at Berkeley recently.

In Michigan, students who repeatedly infringe on free speech on campus may face a year suspension and possibly expulsion if a new law introduced in the statehouse passes.

The law is known as Campus Free Speech Act and comes on the heels of recent events, particularly the aforementioned Coulter speech at the University of California at Berkeley. It was scheduled for late April, but was canceled due to 'safety concerns.'

The lead sponsor of the legislation is Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R-MI). He said that he hopes the legislation would prevent "shout-down vetoes" of controversial campus speakers in Michigan.

"You have a right to express your concern with [a speaker], but you don't have the right to shut them down during the actual speech . . . It's time we look at people who are prohibiting free speech rights, not trying to use that right," the Senator told Heat Street

The Campus Free Speech Act would permit those who are silenced to take civil action against those who kept them from speaking.

If, as in Ann Coulter's case, a  speaker was already invited to speak on campus or group facility and then disinvited, "they'd have some mechanism to regain that financial loss," Colbeck explained.

The legislation would apply to 15 universities and 28 community colleges in Michigan, including the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor where not only Ann Coulter attended, but so did Madonna, Gerald Ford and Jack Kevorkian.

Go Wolverines!

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