Cotton introduces Campus Free Speech Act, McConnell signs on

Our friend Sen. Tom Cotton has introduced the Campus Free Speech Restoration Act (CAFSRA). It provides that colleges and universities that promulgate restrictive speech codes, so-called free-speech zones, and other unconstitutional speech policies will lose their eligibility to receive federal student loans and grants through the Higher Education Act. Private universities will also lose eligibility unless they both fully disclose their policies on free expression and accept contractual responsibility for enforcing those policies.

Stanley Kurtz provides a detailed analysis of CAFSRA here. He addresses concerns that (1) the federal government should avoid an active role in higher education altogether, even to protect freedom of speech or (2) CAFSRA is too little, too late to save an academy that has all but abandoned the principles of liberal education.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is co-sponsoring Cotton’s bill. This means that he will likely will force Seante Democrats to vote on it. The bill will either pass or it will be used as a potentially powerful campaign issue by Republicans.