Nov 1, 2021 - News

UF experts barred from sharing expertise

Illustration of a general prohibition symbol, with a gavel as a crossbar.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Three University of Florida political science professors have been barred by the University from testifying in a case challenging the new Republican-backed state election law that imposes more restrictions on voting, the Times/Herald reports.

Why it matters: The university's decision to reject the professors' request for permission to testify could have far-reaching free speech implications for higher education faculty across Florida.

Driving the news: UF denied the requests on the grounds that the "activities are adverse to its interests," wrote Gary Wimsett, UF's assistant vice president for conflicts of interest. "As UF is a state actor, litigation against the state is adverse to UF’s interests."

What they're saying: UF issued a statement saying the university didn't deny the professors' First Amendment rights: "Rather, the university denied requests of these full-time employees to undertake outside paid work that is adverse to the university’s interests as a state of Florida institution."

The other side: "It is a profound, chilling, frightening change in policy," Paul Donnelly, a lawyer for the professors, told the Times/Herald.

  • The professors have vowed to fight.

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