Key Points
  • Free speech allows individual’s to use their own voice to ensure “We the People” would control their own destiny without government intrusion or interference.
  • Freedom of speech and inquiry are crucial in higher education. Universities exist to educate students and pursue knowledge.
  • Violating the privacy of individuals who choose to donate to nonprofit 501(c)(3)-designated organizations has the potential to chill free speech
  • It is imperative to empower consumers by protecting their right to receive truthful commercial information.

Freedom of speech is paramount for the American system of government and American culture. Born from revolution, American society has been created, evolved and progressed based in part, on the First Amendment. More specifically, free speech allows individual’s to use their own voice to ensure “We the People” would control their own destiny without government intrusion or interference.

Freedom of speech is not an isolated topic. Free speech and First Amendment law bleed into multiple public policy areas such as education, criminal justice, civic participation, health care, commerce and even technology.

The Center to Protect Free Speech focuses on three key areas: Campus speech, donor privacy, and commercial speech.

Campus Speech Freedom of speech and inquiry are crucial in higher education. Universities exist to educate students and pursue knowledge. As a “marketplace of ideas,” the university offers a forum for ideas to compete. This intellectual competition produces a level of academic rigor that is impossible to produce without freedom of speech for both students and professors. The Center will focus on three primary issues in higher education; two relating to professors/faculty and one related specifically to student speech on campus:

Academic Freedom – the right of the professor/faculty to determine the content of their instruction without fear of government intrusion, while at the same time ensure material is germane to the subject of the class.

Freedom to Research—Professors also need protection as they pursue research that may be unpopular or controversial. A common intimidation tactic of political activists is to submit Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requests for professors’ private correspondence.

Student Speech – One of the main pillars of a higher education is to expose oneself to the “free market of ideas.” In order to do this, students must be exposed to new ideas and feel free to challenge agreed upon “truths.”

Donor Privacythe first amendment’s preservation of free speech and assembly encourages open public debate, which is essential to the proper function of American democracy; violating the privacy of individuals who choose to donate to nonprofit 501(c)(3)-designated organizations has the potential to chill free speech for fear of retribution and stifle subsequent participation in the political process.

Commercial Speech It is imperative to empower consumers by protecting their right to receive truthful commercial information, and the rights of businesses to engage in the free exchange of such truthful information.

Model Policies

  • Forming Open and Robust University Minds (FORUM) Act Final

    FORMING OPEN AND ROBUST UNIVERSITY MINDS (FORUM) ACT WHEREAS, the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and the _____ Constitution protect the rights of free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and freedom of association for all citizens. WHEREAS, the Supreme Court has called public …

  • Campus Anti-Harassment Act Final

    General Description This bill enacts provisions related to harassment at an institution of higher education. Highlighted Provisions This bill: defines terms; enacts requirements related to how an institution of higher education addresses discriminatory harassment; prohibits an institution of higher education from punishing certain acts of speech that do not constitute …

  • Public Participation Protection Act

    Model Policy Section 1. {Title.} This Act shall be known and may be cited as the Public Participation Protection Act. Section 2. {Time for Filing Special Motion to Dismiss; Discovery.} (A) A party may file a special motion to dismiss a claim under this Act if the claim is based …

  • Resolution in Support of Nonprofit Donor Privacy Final

    Summary In response to attempts to expand the scope and application of donor disclosure requirements of nonprofit tax-exempt organizations, the American Legislative Exchange Council resolves to oppose such efforts and protect the privacy of donors. Resolution WHEREAS, the first amendment of the United States Constitution protects an individual’s right to …

Task Forces

Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development

Members of the Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force believe that economic freedom is the cornerstone of prosperity. The …

Criminal Justice Reform

Currently, nearly one in every 100 American adults is behind bars and once released from prison more than four in …

Energy, Environment and Agriculture

The Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force operates under the principles of free-market environmentalism, that is to promote the mutually …

Education and Workforce Development

The mission of the ALEC Education and Workforce Development Task Force is to promote excellence in the nation’s educational system, …

Communications and Technology

With nearly 200 members representing all parts of the country and every segment of industry, the Communications and Technology Task …

Civil Justice

The Civil Justice Task Force and its members are at the forefront of the efforts to restore fairness and predictability …