The Unconstitutional Silencing of Pro-Palestinian Student Groups
December 7, 2023
Free speech is one of the hallmarks of a functioning democracy and one of our fundamental constitutional rights. At the ACLU, we know that it’s precisely in times of crisis and fear when free speech, open debate, and peaceful dissent are most important.
Over the last few months, as the world continues to witness the catastrophe in Israel and Palestine, protests in support of Palestine are being silenced and censored on college campuses.
In early November, the ACLU sent out an open letter to the administrative leaders of each state’s public college system that reached over 650 colleges and universities, expressing our strong opposition to any efforts that stifle free speech on college campuses, and urging universities to reject calls to investigate, disband, or penalize pro-Palestinian student groups for exercising their free speech rights.
In Florida, State University System Chancellor Ray Rodrigues already issued an order in consultation with Governor Ron DeSantis to deactivate Students for Justice in Palestine chapters in the state. In response, we and our partners at the ACLU of Florida and Palestine Legal are suing Governor DeSantis and Florida university system officials on behalf of the University of Florida’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine to block the deactivation order from taking effect.
Joining us to discuss this important lawsuit are Shaiba Rather, the Nadine Strossen fellow with the ACLU’s National Security Project and Tyler Takemoto, the William J. Brennan fellow with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project.