Conflicts Over Testimony

At about 2 PM on Friday November 5, The New York Times web site posted that the previous decision by the University of Florida to prohibit three professors from testifying for the plaintiffs in a law suit where the state of Florida is the defendant had been reversed. The three–Daniel A. Smith, Michael McDonald and Sharon D. Wright Austin—can testify and be paid to do so, as is usually the case when academics testify in court as long as they do so on their own time. Why does this matter?

The question at hand is what happens when a state is a defendant and professors from that state’s university are testifying against the state? Are the professors caught in a conflict of interest between the people paying their salaries against whom they are testifying and their own freedom of speech?