Center to Protect Free Speech
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. - The First Amendment
Policy Center Description
The purpose of the Center to Protect Free Speech is to educate legislators and concerned citizens regarding the importance of free speech; promote policies that ensure the ability for all to speak freely; and equip the public with the resources necessary to preserve and protect the free speech rights of all people.
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 Privacy –the 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.