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Free speech bill in Ohio aimed at college campuses

Several states are adopting laws that ban colleges from setting up free speech zones.

Ohio may join several other states that have adopted laws designed to protect free speech on college campuses.

Ohio House Education Committee Chairman Andrew Brenner, R-Powell, and state Rep. Wes Goodman, R-Cardington, will hold a press conference Tuesday to discuss a new bill addressing free speech policies at public colleges and universities.

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Several states have either adopted laws or are considering bills to ban university policies that relegate protesters to “free speech zones.” Some states have also required universities to sanction those who interfere with the free speech of others.

It is likely to be a hot topic, coming on the heels of a violent white supremacist rally at the University of Virginia and the backlash against politically-polarizing speakers on campuses.

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Political protests, anti-war movements and social change often takes root on American college campuses. In the past, a crackdown on free speech sometimes came from university administrators but in recent years, political conservatives say college students often seek to shut down free speech.

The American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative think tank, set up a Center to Protect Free Speech and is pushing model legislation eliminate free speech zones, protect counter-protesters from discipline for lawful expression, and allow people whose free speech rights have been violated to file suit.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to free speech and press and the right of the people peaceably to assemble.

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