UF Reverses Course; Profs can Testify in Voting Rights SuitBreaking News
tags: voting rights, academic freedom, University of Florida
Reversing its previous position, the University of Florida said Friday that it will allow three professors to testify as experts in a lawsuit challenging a new state election law that critics say restricts voting rights.
Last month, the university prohibited Dan Smith, Michael McDonald and Sharon Austin from testifying in the lawsuit brought by civic groups, saying that such testimony would put the school in conflict with the administration of Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, which pushed the election law. More than half of the university’s trustees are appointed by the governor.
In a letter to the campus, university president Kent Fuchs said he is asking the office responsible for approving professors’ outside work to greenlight their request to serve as expert witnesses in the litigation. Fuchs said the outside work would have to be on the professors’ own time and not use university resources.
Attorneys representing the professors said they were still planning to move forward with a lawsuit against the university.
“Despite reversing the immediate decision prohibiting the Professors from testifying, the University has made no commitment to abandon its policy preventing academics from serving as expert witnesses when the University thinks that their speech may be adverse to the State and whatever political agenda politicians want to promote,” David O’Neil and Paul Donnelly said in a statement. “It is time for this matter to be rightfully adjudicated, not by press release, but in a court of law.”
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