Judge Sides With University of Florida Professors in Free Speech Case
A federal judge in Tallahassee has ruled in favor of University of Florida professors who had protested the school’s conflict-of-interest policy. In a blistering 74-page preliminary injunction, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker said the university’s decision to bar six professors from speaking against the state on Florida in their official capacity amounted to a limit on academic freedom. The professors wanted to testify in a lawsuit challenging a new state election law. Walker said the university must change its policy to allow them to testify, and that even its revised policy—which came after the school established a task force to examine the original one—was unconstitutional. “Here, fortunately, democracy does not depend upon a lone child to challenge the ‘emperors’ of our time. Instead, this nation’s ‘priests of democracy,’— its learned professors — guide us in our pursuit of truth and informed citizenship,” Walker wrote. The professors’ lawyer praised the decision, while a UF spokesperson said it would determine its next steps.