ACLU sues Florida for banning antisemitic group Students for Justice in Palestine from state university campuses

The lawsuit argues that the order violates freedom of speech.

Katie Daviscourt Seattle WA
On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit against Florida Universities in response to the universities' recent directive to dissolve pro-Palestinian student organizations that had shown support to Hamas terrorists.

The lawsuit argues that the order violates freedom of speech, claiming the directive is an "egregious violation" of the First Amendment, according to the Messenger.

At the direction of Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, State University System Chancellor Ray Rodrigues ordered the termination of the nationwide controversial anti-Israel student group, Students for Justice in Palestine, from all state universities. The decision followed the national group's open support for Hamas terrorists.

The lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of the University of Florida chapter, states that the chapter's affiliation with the national chapter is loosely affiliated, as it neither accepts funds nor collaborates with it on planning events.

Members of the chapter said they "fear that at any moment the University will disrupt their ability to sustain their growing momentum for their advocacy," according to the suit, which alleges that interest in the group has grown since the Israel-Hamas war began on Oct. 7.

The defendants named in the suit include Gov. DeSantis, Chancellor Rodrigues, and the Florida Universities Board of Governors.

During the GOP presidential primary debate last week, Gov. DeSantis proudly announced the disbanding of the chapters and declared: "We're not going to use state tax dollars to fund jihad."

However, the order to disband the chapters isn't going over smoothly. The day after the primary debate, Rodrigues informed the Board of Governors that he had discovered that two of the chapters he had shut down were not connected to the national organization and that every university had submitted legal opinions voicing reservations about their dissolution.

Since then, Rodrigues has retracted the order, while consulting with attorneys to decide how the state can move forward, and whether it can order the chapters to pledge to reject violence and Hamas, the outlet reports.

In recent weeks, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) has been at the center of worldwide controversy for their anti-Israel demonstrations. Columbia University suspended its chapter last week, claiming that the group engaged in multiple acts of threats and intimidation toward Jewish students and repeatedly violated official school policy.

On Oct. 7, the day Hamas terrorists slaughtered more than 1200 Israeli men, women, and children, the Columbia chapter for Students for Justice in Palestine celebrated the terrorist attacks and called it "an unprecedented historic moment for the Palestinians of Gaza."
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