State Lawmakers Can’t Ban Critical Race Theory on College Campuses

According to FIRE’s recent report, at least 10 state legislators have proposed bills that would regulate the speech of professors on colleges campuses.

Alabama, Florida and Indiana are introducing bills in South Carolina. They “contain unconstitutional restrictions on what college students can learn,” Joe Cohn of FIRE writesHe also stated that they should not be implemented in the current form. 

Cohn writes that while legislators may have “broader but not indefinite” authority to create K-12 curriculum, Cohn states that the First Amendment as well as the principles academic freedom forbid the government’s ban on ideas coming from college classrooms. 

Iowa’s House File 222Oklahoma’s House Bill 2988State funding for public services would be reduced Universities that use The to teach American History 1619 ProjectA controversial compilation of essays, “The Unauthorized Collection”John McWhorter wrote that he wanted to “reframe America’s history by putting the effects of slavery and contributions of black Americans in the center of the United States’ national narrative.” There are reasons.  

H.F.222 says that the general assembly is interested in “promoting an accurate account this nation’s historical through public schools” and “forming young people to be patriotic and knowledgeable citizens.” 

Although Oklahoma already passed a bill that regulated speech regarding race and gender in educational settings in 2021, Rep. Jim Olsen (R–Roland) claims that it wasn’t as effective as intended. He said, “I believe one thing we learned from that bill is that it didn’t have any teeth.” to ABC News (KTUL)

Oklahoma’s state funding for schools that incorporate The 1619 Project into their curriculum will be reduced by up to 10 percent.

The South Carolina state legislature is considering banning critical race theory from colleges in a similar move to Oklahoma. This bill H4799This would ban The 1619 Project from being used in education. 

Alabama’s House Bill 11It would ban colleges from teaching some concepts related to race and sexuality, like critical race theory. According to the bill, “This bill also requires public K-12 schools as well as public institutions of higher learning to immediately terminate any employees found violating its provisions,” 

Kentucky Republicans Introduced House Bill 18January 4 The bill forbids class instruction and discussion that favors certain concepts related to religion, race, or sex. H.B. 18 extends the regulation on race-related concepts to higher educational, instead of being limited to K-12. House Bill 14. 

Cohn of FIRE writes that “it has been decades since any doubt that government bans upon what can be taught at college classes are unconstitutional.” He cites the Famous 1957 case Sweezy v. New HampshireThe Supreme Court upheld academic freedom in higher education in the case of 

According to this opinion, “imposing any rigidity upon our intellectual leaders in colleges and universities would jeopardize the future of the Nation.” No field of education can be fully understood by men, so new discoveries are impossible. That is particularly true in social sciences because few or none of the principles have been accepted as absolutes. In an environment of distrust and suspicion, scholarship cannot thrive.”

Although there are many reasons not to treat The 1619 Project alone as an American history source, it is not necessary to protect students from its ideas. The ideal place to challenge its claims is Academia. For “promoting an accurate account of the nation’s past,” which Iowa’s bill, and others assert to do as well, acknowledging and respecting constitutional protections on college campuses is essential.