Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has vetoed a bipartisan bill that sought to protect controversial speakers on college campuses.
The bill, which passed overwhelmingly in the state legislature, was a response to protests by college students across the country against speakers they viewed as offensive, many of them conservatives. Some protests have turned violent, such as one at Middlebury College in Vermont.
The legislation would have asked colleges to establish disciplinary measures to punish hecklers and violent protesters, reports WORLD magazine.
The Democratic governor said June 27 that the legislation was “unnecessary and overly burdensome” and would “only frustrate the goals it purports to achieve,” according to The Times-Picayune.
But free speech advocates said his veto was shortsighted because it ignores the “hecklers veto.”
The bill passed by the legislature was “significantly watered-down” compared to an earlier version that called for stiffer penalties for disrupting speakers, according to the The Times-Picayune.
The bill was sponsored by House Republican Caucus Chairman Lance Harris of Alexandria, who said he modeled his proposal after an Arizona law that passed last year. Republicans in several other states have proposed similar measures.