ORLANDO, Florida, USA (AP) – The University of Florida is seeking to prevent three professors from offering expert testimony in a lawsuit against a new law that critics say restricts voting rights, arguing that it goes against the interests of the school by contradicting the Florida government.
While the decision has been billed as a threat to academic freedom and free speech, the university said in a statement Saturday that allowing professors Dan Smith, Michael McDonald and Sharon Austin to testify as paid experts to the objection of the law on the part of the plaintiffs would be “adverse to the interests of the university as an institution of the state of Florida.”RELATED
“The University of Florida has a long history of supporting freedom of speech and academic freedom for our faculty, and we will continue to do so,” the school said in the statement.
Attorneys for a coalition of civil rights groups that challenge the law said in court documents Friday that the university warned professors that giving their expert testimony would be a discrepancy from Gov. Ron DeSantis’s administration, which that would create a conflict for the school.
“The UF will reject requests from its employees to get involved in outside activities when the school determines that the activities are adverse to their interests. Because the UF is a state actor, the litigation against the state is adverse to the interests of the UF, ”according to an email from an assistant vice president of the university to McDonald that was presented along with the documents to the court.