The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education released a report on August 31st highlighting a growing pattern of university students and outside groups calling for schools to punish professors for statements they made on sensitive political issues. The study showed that the number of targeting incidents against professors has risen precipitously since 2015.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will not approve a tenured position for Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, according to a May 19th report from NC Policy Watch.
Since Florida Governor Ron. DeSantis signed the “Combating Public Disorder” act into law this past April, civil liberties groups across the country have questioned its constitutionality. Now, two separate groups have sought to challenge the law in federal court.
The new law broadly protects speech on public matters and ensures that defendants targeted with SLAPP lawsuits recover legal fees.
At least two universities have postponed activities that may violate the President Sept. 22 directive against "race and sex stereotyping." It's likely more will opt to cancel activities, rather than risk being cut off from federal funds.
Public officials using libel suits as a weapon against the press is nothing new. In the time of Times v. Sullivan, southern officials had brought nearly $300 million in libel actions against the press. For reference, Nunes alone has brought just over $900 million in defamation claims in a twelve-month period.
Represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, students claim their school's policies limit spontaneous expression, and leave them vulnerable to viewpoint discrimination.
"Even if an official lacks actual power to punish," the appeals court argued, "the threat of punishment from a public official who appears to have punitive authority can be enough to produce an objective chill."