ACLU warns higher ed institutions not follow Florida in banning pro-Palestinian groups
Image via Jeislian Quiles-Sierra/Oracle.

The civil rights group says ordered disbanding of pro-Palestinian student groups is unconstitutional and chilling.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is calling Gov. Ron DeSantis’ order to deactivate pro-Palestinian student groups unconstitutional.

The ACLU is sending an open letter to more than 650 colleges and universities asking them not to do what Florida’s Governor directed State University System Chancellor Ray Rodrigues to do last week in the wake of the surprise Hamas terror attack.

Rodrigues said Florida chapters of the national Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) must be deactivated because the group’s statements in support of the Oct. 7 attacks amount to material support of terrorism. That violates Florida law, Rodrigues’ letter says.

The attacks left more than 1,400 dead and touched off a debate that has ignited protests, both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian around the world.

The National SJP sent out a toolkit that said Palestinian students in exile “are PART of the movement,” not just in solidarity. The SJP also called the massacres “a historic win for Palestinian existence,” which the Anti-Defamation League warned could create a hostile environment for Jewish students.

Rodrigues went further.

“It is a felony under Florida law to ‘knowingly provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization,’” Rodrigues wrote in a Oct. 24 letter to the State University System Presidents.

“Here (in a toolkit sent to its chapters), National SJP has affirmatively identified (that) it is part of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood — a terrorist led attack.

The ACLU says Rodrigues is going too far.

It says painting SJP’s local chapters as such is antithetical to the nation’s bedrock principles and a threat to higher education’s role as a place for vigorous debate.

“To be clear, the ACLU in no way approves of or endorses such statements,” the ACLU’s letter reads, reacting to the SJP’s “Day of Resistance” memo supporting the worst Jewish massacre since the Holocaust. “Endorsing brutal mass murder of civilians is contrary to the principles of human rights that animate our domestic agenda.”

Still, as loathsome as those statements are, “they are not material support for terrorism, but political advocacy fully protected by the First Amendment,” the letter says.

Rodrigues declined to react to the ACLU’s statement Wednesday.

“For now, I will let the memo that I issued speak for itself,” he said in a text.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • rbruce

    November 2, 2023 at 10:11 am

    Misleading headline. No one is banning any group on college campuses. What is being done is basic law enforcement. It is against the law to give financial or material support to a terrorist organization. Hamas is such a group.

    • My Take

      November 2, 2023 at 12:29 pm

      Students’ opiniòns oŕ words are neither financial nor material.

Comments are closed.


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