Cain Calls for Free Speech Hearings

After experiencing the heckler’s veto first hand, a conservative state lawmaker is calling on the leaders of the Texas Legislature to study ways in which to protect Texans’ free speech rights on college campuses.

State Rep. Briscoe Cain (R–Deer Park), a freshman lawmaker and member of the Texas Freedom Caucus, was invited to speak to Texas Southern University Law School’s budding Federalist Society chapter. But after arriving on campus and beginning the event, Cain was subjected to a protest of angry students who accused him of being racist and shouted down his attempts to speak.

Despite wishing to continue to speak, Cain’s event was quickly shut down by members of the university’s administration and forced to leave the campus under allegations that students hadn’t followed the proper protocol in inviting him.

Both Cain and the students dispute those allegations, pointing to emails and activities that show that administrators not only approved of the event, but also helped arrange the accommodations. Now even a member of the faculty is calling foul on the university administration.

On Wednesday, James Matthew Douglas, the interim dean of the law school, says he approved the event and is investigating the allegations made by the university that Cain’s event was in violation of university procedures.

“We have a process here in the law school, and they went through our process,” Douglas told a Dallas newspaper. “The speaker had a First Amendment right to be heard by the students that invited him.”

Now, Cain is calling on the state’s legislative leaders to make the issue a priority in the next session of the Texas Legislature by studying the issue during the interim. In a letter to House Speaker Joe Straus and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Cain writes:

“As you know, between legislative sessions the legislature has the opportunity to study important issues facing our state in order to ascertain the most appropriate legislative means to address these issues when the body returns.

I am aware that the formal deadline given by your offices for suggestions on interim charges was October 2nd. However, in light of recent events, I am requesting an interim study on protecting free speech on college campuses.

During the regular session, several bills were filed to protect the free speech of student groups, including HB 2527, a bill I authored along with several of my colleagues. There are several approaches the Legislature can take to protect the speech of students from out-of-control administrations and students who don’t believe in the first amendment. It is clear that some action must be taken by the legislature to protect free speech rights on college campuses.”

A copy of Cain’s full letter may be viewed here.

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Cary Cheshire

Cary Cheshire serves as Vice President of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, the premier project of Empower Texans. A 6th Generation Texan, Cary attended Texas A&M University was active in a number of conservative causes including Ted Cruz's Senate campaign. He has also worked on campaigns to elect conservatives to both Congress and the Texas Legislature. Cary enjoys college football, genealogy research, and the occasional craft beer.

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