🗣University of Florida Flip-Flops On Free Speech

The University of Florida is reversing its decision to bar three of its professors from providing expert testimony in a federal voting rights case. The suit, filed in May against Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee, argues that a state law signed by Governor Ron DeSantis discriminates against voters of color.

All three professors specialize in voting rights and election law.

  • Paul Donnelly, an attorney for the professors, told NPR that "it's unprecedented in American history for a public institution to attempt a ban like this. ... It's chilling the exercise of free thought and speech."

  • The university announced that it has created a task force to assess any future conflict of interest requests by faculty.

Why The Sudden Shift?

According to the New York Times, critics of the university's initial freeze of the professors claim the action reeked of political interference—namely from Governor DeSantis, who has close ties to UF and its president, Kent Fuchs. The chair of the school's board of trustees is also a close friend of the governor's. Both the governor's office and the university have denied the claims.

The Verdict

It seems odd that a public university would deny its own professors provide testimony in a federal case on the very matter those professors are experts in. It’s even odder for that university to reverse its decision as soon as a bit of media attention is placed on it.