Thursday, September 11, 2008

Florida District Court Overturns Law Restricting Academic Travel to Iran

On August 29, 2008, a federal judge struck down a Florida law that restricts students, faculty members, and researchers at the state’s public colleges and universities from traveling to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. According to a Chronicle of Education article, “The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida had challenged the law in court on behalf of the Faculty Senate at Florida International University, arguing that the statute violated faculty members’ First Amendment rights and impinged on the federal government’s ability to regulate foreign commerce.” The law, which passed in 2006, prevents students, professors, and researchers at public universities and community colleges in Florida from using state or federal funds, or private foundation grants administered by their institutions, to travel to countries listed as state sponsors of terrorism. Those at private colleges in Florida are forbidden to use state funds for that purpose. Judge Patricia Seitz’s decision overturned an earlier ruling upholding the ban, maintaining that while state funds may not be used for travel to those countries, nearly all such trips rely on private funds.

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