WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today individual professors and students of Florida’s public colleges and universities filed a lawsuit against the Florida Commissioner of Education and other higher education officials challenging the constitutionality of House Bill 233, which Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed into law last week in an effort to monitor “intellectual diversity” on campus. The lawsuit argues that H.B. 233 “aims to identify public institutions of higher education where liberal and progressive views predominate” and infringes on protected freedoms of speech and association.
The complaint challenges two parts of H.B. 233. The survey provisions require that the state’s public colleges and universities conduct an annual survey of political ideologies among students and faculty. While these provisions do not clarify if participation is mandatory or how results will be used, the plaintiffs argue that the structure, history and statements around the survey provisions suggest that these surveys will require students and faculty to disclose their personal political beliefs. The anti-shielding provisions mandate that public colleges and universities may not “shield” students or faculty from “free speech protected under the First Amendment.” The complaint alleges that both of these provisions violate the First and 14th Amendments and asks the court to prohibit enforcement of the law.