Florida Moves to Ban Pro-Palestinian Student Group from Campuses

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s administration has ordered state universities to ban a pro-Palestinian student organization, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The state has denounced SJP as supporting a “terrorist organization” after the massacre of Israelis by Hamas. I have previously written how Hamas is morally and legally a terrorist organization. However, this move would, in my view, violate the First Amendment and chill the exercise of free speech in higher education.

State university system Chancellor Ray Rodrigues wrote to university presidents Tuesday directing them to disband chapters of SJP. He quoted the national group’s declaration that “Palestinian students in exile are PART of this movement, not in solidarity with this movement.”

That is a rather thin rationale for declaring that the student groups are now aiders and abetters of terrorism. Nevertheless, Rodrigues declared “it is a felony under Florida law to ‘knowingly provide material support … to a designated foreign terrorist organization.’”

Students for Justice in Palestine has been on U.S. campuses for decades with more than 200 chapters across the United States. The Supreme Court has repeatedly struck down such content-based bans and has been particularly protective of free speech in higher education. In 1943, in the midst of World War II, Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson wrote schools “educating the young for citizenship is reason for scrupulous protection of Constitutional freedoms of the individual, if we are not to strangle the free mind at its source and teach youth to discount important principles of our government as mere platitudes.”

The Supreme Court has protected speech that is vile and prejudicial. That included the racist and anti-Semitic speech of a Catholic priest in Terminiello v. City of Chicago, 337 U.S. 1 (1949). In that case, Justice William O. Douglas wrote:

The right to speak freely and to promote diversity of ideas and programs is therefore one of the chief distinctions that sets us apart from totalitarian regimes.

Accordingly a function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger. Speech is often provocative and challenging. It may strike at prejudices and preconceptions and have profound unsettling effects as it presses for acceptance of an idea. That is why freedom of speech, though not absolute… is nevertheless protected against censorship or punishment, unless shown likely to produce a clear and present danger of a serious substantive evil that rises far above public inconvenience, annoyance, or unrest. …There is no room under our Constitution for a more restrictive view. For the alternative would lead to standardization of ideas either by legislatures, courts, or dominant political or community groups.

I strongly disagree with many of the protests being held on campuses, including a deeply disturbing incident at George Washington University this week praising “the martyrs” in the Hamas attack. Our Jewish students need to feel safe on our campuses — a concern magnified this week by the image of Jewish students locked in a library for their own protection in New York.

However, the solution is not the denial of free speech on our campuses. Higher education demands a protective space for a diversity of viewpoints. The solution to bad speech remains better speech, not censorship or criminalization of speech.

245 thoughts on “Florida Moves to Ban Pro-Palestinian Student Group from Campuses”

  1. Dear Teacher:

    In general, I always agree with your opinions, I learn a lot about Law, which I love, and you are an eminence, so I am not qualified to discuss your erudition, and I am a faithful defender of freedom of speech and a staunch detractor of censorship, with this particular group, National Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) supports terrorism is different.

    This is not just any student club, nor are they a group of innocent activists who believe in a metaphorical ideal of a better world based on “Social Justice.”

    This is a group of political activists thought and surgically designed to promote and defend their radical ideas and cause social unrest (and may God and the Universe protect us) of an Arab Spring…..

    That is their mission as “infiltrators” in schools and universities in the USA and Europe, it is a group financed and sponsored by terrorist groups as announced by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

    Major backers include founders and donors connected to Islamist terrorist organizations. These include Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

    NGO Monitor reports that SJP is funded by a network of non-governmental organizations and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activists with financial assistance, training and legal advice.

    Visible funding for the SJP comes from student governments, and individual chapters receive funding from groups such as American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) and WESPAC, a center-left nonprofit in Westchester County, New York, that supports reform. social and progressive social change. However, the SJP is not transparent; only a small portion of its funding is publicly available.


  2. If speech that causes incitement to murder is allowed under our first amendment then we’re all in trouble. Pro-palestinians are not merely protesting, they are going forward with their age old plan of eradicating Jews off the face of the earth. And remember, these people believe America is the great satan, while Israel is the little satan. If academia isn’t “reined in” the hatred will continue until we see 100,00 strong protests in any location as in London.

  3. Rep Pramila Jayapal warned President Biden that his support of Israel might cost him the Muslim vote. So, what? She wants Israel cleansed of Jews? Because that’s Hamas’ goal.

    Does this mean that a majority of American Muslims supports Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel, including mass rapes, murders, torture, and the kidnapping of unarmed civilians? Do they support “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, which refers to the extinction of all Jews in Israel?

    That would be very concerning.

    I watched some of the videos that Hamas uploaded, and it was so horrific that I had to look away for most of it. The idea was to be prepared with receipts when someone claims that Hamas did not target civilians, or that atrocities never happened, like Holocaust deniers. It was the stuff of nightmares, but it was not even a fraction as bad as what was described that Israel showed to reporters. They had body cam footage from Hamas terrorists that showed the mutilation and murder of screaming children. Women, young girls, and grandmothers were gang raped until their pelvises broke. Children were burned to death. They cut off body parts of kids while they were alive. Terrorists called home to brag about how many Jews they killed, and to ask if their parents were proud. The acts that occurred were Satanic, and the only other time I can think of referring to violence like that was the Holocaust concentration camps. It was like sacrifices for evil, while the terrorist laughed like devils. Jeffrey Dahmer was a disturbed psychopath. After reading just some of the atrocities, I will forever think of Hamas as true devil worshippers, in the same hole as actual Nazis, and demonstrators as Nazi supporters. They are worse than Jeffrey Dahmer.

    A shockingly large number of Americans side with Hamas, the modern day Nazis.

    This is frightening. These could be the seeds of some massive, coordinated attack on American Jews. I’m a Christian who stands with Israel.

    I find Jews who support Hamas or the Palestinian movement to be as inexplicable as Queers for Palestine. Israel has equal rights for gays, but they would be thrown off buildings in Hamas’ controlled territory.

    1. He never should have had the “Muslim” vote to begin with. Exactly which democrat value aligns with Islam???

      1. The Democrat Party has no positive values. It is aligned with the Islamist (to be distinguished from Islam) values that agree with violence, murder and second class citizenship for all others.

        ATS fits in well with those values.

  4. I would bring some busses with signs reading: “Come join the fight to eliminate Israel! Sign up here, and you will be flown to Palestine on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, then armed and sent to fight along side Hamas freedom fighters for the cause. Extra credit may apply.”

  5. You say that Hamas does not represent all “Palestinians” (as if “all” is important). You march through the streets and campus quads to support the “Palestinian” cause. You demand a “Palestinian” state.

    Heads (Hamas), you endorse dictatorship, genocide, terrorism. Tails (Fatah), you endorse dictatorship, genocide, terrorism.

    Ideas matter — not slogans, chants, flag waving. The intellectual and political *leadership* of “Palestine” hold profoundly irrational, anti-human, tyrannical ideas.

    Given the leadership’s totalitarian, genocidal ideology, a new “Palestinian” state means yet another theocracy in the Middle East, yet more brutal suppression of its own people, and yet another base of operation for terrorists.

    If you are genuinely concerned about innocent “Palestinians,” then give them a copy of the Declaration of Independence.

    (Incidentally, Hamas versus Fatah is Crips versus Bloods — two criminal gangs in a turf war.)

  6. Although I must admit that Prof. Turley is probably correct in his statements, I also believe that supporting a recognized terrorist organization that, as part of their dogma, openly and forcefully espouses and sanctions the destruction of the United States of America through whatever means are necessary, and therefore, derivatively, the overthrow of its Constitution and the subjugation of its people, comes pretty darn close to “a clear and present danger of a serious substantive evil that rises far above public inconvenience, annoyance, or unrest . . . ” And, who knows, a conservative SCOTUS — unlike the liberal civil libertarian Douglas (who is considered by many to be the most progressive Justice ever), may see fit to disallow those organizations the use of the rights of the first amendment of a Constitution they are so resolute in viciously annihilating.

  7. O T (COVID )
    It is reported that 66 per cent of American students are now attending schools with chronic absenteeism, compared to 25 per cent in the last pre-Covid year. Fox News.com 10/25/23 7:00 am. Remember that statistic the next time a would-be censor preaches to you about his /her expertise.

  8. Generally I agree with Prof. Turley here. But I think the state CAN ask this group to clarify in their charter whether they are PART of the terrorist movement or merely supporting it through advocacy.

    While Florida should not move quickly – and frankly I do not think they should move solely based on this groups charter asserting that they are PART of a terrorist organtation rather than supporting it. I am not entirely opposed to consequences for refusing to distinguish between actually being part of a terrorist organization and merely supporting it.

  9. It is widely known that Hamas and Hezbollah are Iran-directed proxy groups. Yet MAGA Republicans forget that Iran is an ally of Russia.

    So it doesn’t take a genius to figure that Hamas’s attack on Israel was meant to completely distract the U.S., and western allies, from Ukraine.

    But MAGA Republicans haven’t connected the dots. Instead they want to walk away from Ukraine and dive right into an Arab-Israeli war to support Netanyahu. And one should note that most Israelis blame Netenyahu for provoking this conflict.

    Then most absurdly, MAGA Republicans want to label as ‘antisemitic’ anyone concerned for the safety of Palestinians stuck in Gaza. Like Palestinian lives shouldn’t matter!

    The truth is that most Americans under 40 sympathize with the Palestinians. Palestinians have no country and no real citizenship. They are essentially second class citizens of Israel living under an apartheid system.

    It is also true that poor leadership by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are largely responsible for the current plight of Palestinians. Nevertheless, there will be no peace until the Palestinian people are full citizens of a real country.

    1. Anonymous, the constant reference to MAGA Republicans in your comment made the rest of what you wrote recede into the nearly invisible. I’m a MAGA Republican. And I opposed entirely the trash that was US promotion of the war in Ukraine. I likewise oppose entirely the trash that is the US promotion of this new round of war and destruction in the Mideast. I recognize that Hamas committed acts of terror. And that it didn’t happen in a vacuum – that the Palestinians have endured decades of suffocating oppression. Perhaps in the future make your points without the gratuitous vilification. It accomplishes nothing positive. And we’ve become all tired of the darts no matter who decides to throw them.

      1. The bowling alley where the Maine shooter killed seven was a gun-free zone. Gun-free zones are favorite places for mass shooters, for obvious reasons. 94% of mass shootings take place in gun-free zones.

      2. I think Hamas has now demonstrated to Israel that Israel can no longer accept Hamas remaining in control of Gaza. Short of an unconditional surrender, there is no way for Israel to remove them except through an invasion.

        The Palestinian suffering is in significant part due to the intransigence of the Arab states and the refusal by Fatah to accept a “two-state” solution offered to them at the end of both the Clinton and W Bush presidencies. Hamas, in any event, has never been interested in any solution other than the eradication of the state of Israel.

        1. The original land for peace deal was when 90% of what was proposed to be Israel as given to the Arabs to form Jordan, and parts of Syria and Lebanon. They already gave the lion’s share of the land of Judea to the Arabs, leaving Israel the approximate size of New Jersey.

          When Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2006, Hamas used it as a base of operations for terrorist attacks.

          Israel offered land for peace with some regularity, but was always rebuffed because, as you said, Palestinians only want the eradication of the state of Israel. Arabs didn’t even call themselves Palestinians until Yasser Arafat so ordered, as a ploy to pretend that there was some unique Palestinian Muslim homeland.

          Arabs already got their 2 State Solution. They got Jordan. Jordan promptly attacked Israel on its inception. Part of Lebanon came from Israel. Lebanon’s Hezbollah is a terrorist organization with the goal to commit genocide on Jews.

          There is a trend, here, on what Arabs do with land carved out of Israel in the hopes of peace.

    2. Lol, I love it. Putin started this war too LMAO.

      WTF is a Palestinian anyway? You said yourself they don’t have a country. There are 1.7 million Muslims living in Israel.

      I will tell you what a Palestinian is. A Palestinian is someone who doesn’t think Israel has a right to exist. Even “Palestinian”Americans don’t think Israel has a right to exist. There can be no two-stage solution when one state thinks the other has no right to exist.

      1. Nerd, Palestinians are ‘there’ regardless of circumstances. Consequently they have to be reckoned with.

        What’s more, walking away from Ukraine means the end of NATO. And without NATO, U.S. power is greatly diminished.

    3. Don’t blame Israel on the plight of the Palestinians…The Palestinian people are getting financial assistance from the West but most of those assistance have been going to the pockets of the corrupt Palestinian leaders…Get rid of their corrupt leaders and the terrorist groups and I bet the Palestinian people will have a better life and peace with their neighbors…Yes, get rid of Abbas and the corrupt members of his government…He hasn’t done anything for the Palestinian people except his talk the talk.

      1. Anonymous, according to a recent poll in the Israeli Times, 80% of respondents blame Netenyahu for this crisis. Under his ‘leadership’, West Bank settlers have been provoking the Palestinians for months.

    4. It is widely known that this Leftist “Anonymous” is a serial, degenerate liar who cannot complete so much as a single sentence without lying.

    5. “It is widely known that Hamas and Hezbollah are Iran-directed proxy groups. Yet MAGA Republicans forget that Iran is an ally of Russia.”

      I forgot to mention, Soviet Democrat apparatchiks like myself serving Biden (and Obama before him), have also forgotten that Iran has been screaming “Death To America” through our entire eight years in the White House, while we pumped billions into the Mad Mullah’s terrorism coffers and took the restrictions off them. And all of that happened long before there was a MAGA for me to mention in my responses.

      I would also appreciate it if you would accept my claim that Gaza governs itself as an apartheid state. Despite the fact that the only people in Gaza since 2005 are Arabs and Hamas. Despite the fact there are only Arabs, terrorist or not, living in Gaza, I hope you will accept Hamas runs Gaza as an apartheid state, where one race holding power abuses the minor state which does not.

    6. Anonymous:

      There never was a Palestinian country. The Romans referred to the region of Judea as Palestine as a punishment for the Jews who resisted Roman Imperialism. There is no Palestinian language, culture, or religion. They are just the same Arabs as anywhere else.

      Jews are the indigenous people of Judea. Their religion, Judaism, formed in Judaea. They can trace their ancestry to the region to the Bronze Age. They are not colonizers. When Islam formed, they oppressed Jews. Jews also faced global antisemitism, culminating in the Holocaust. When the Ottoman Empire fell, the British Mandate set the plan to create Israel as a solution to the Jewish diaspora, and to return their holy land. Some Jews were still living in Judea at this time, although in general, according to the Ottoman census, it was sparsely populated. More Arabs arrived to take advantage of the jobs generated by the Mandate. However, they had no intention of allowing Jews their own state, as antisemitism is inherent in Islam. The Peele Commission determined that Arabs would refuse to live in peace with Jews, so the first land for peace deal was to give 90% of proposed Israel to the Arabs, in the creation of Jordan, and parts of Lebanon and Syria.

      90% of Israel was already given to the “Palestinians.”

      That wasn’t enough.

      Israel has offered land for peace over and over again, but the Palestinians, via the PA, or Hamas, have declined every offer, because they don’t want peace. They want all the Jews dead. Hamas’ mantra is “We love death more than Jews love life.”

      Hundreds of millions of dollars in aid has gone to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Almost all of it gets redirected to killing Jews. Instead of building a state of the art water system, they cut up pipes to make missiles, and tunneled to make bunkers under hospitals.

      When Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in yet another land for peace effort, Hamas simply used it as a base to keep killing Jews. Same for the disputed West Bank.

      Every inch of land given to Palestinians is used to launch terrorism. They will take over Israel one inch at a time, until all the Jews are dead, or they are. Jews want to live in peace, genocidal antisemites do not.

      Palestinians support Hamas’ genocide of Jews, and gave them a heroes’ welcome when they returned from raping, and killing.

      How do you negotiate with a people who want you dead?

      Do you know who is oppressing Palestinians? The terrorist leaders they keep electing. Israel warns civilians to evacuate, and Hamas tries to force them to stay, because dead Palestinians helps gin up antisemitism. They don’t have an independent water supply because Hamas used the money, raw material, and machinery for terrorism. Same for their power supply. Same for the supplies given to renovate and repair buildings. They were given infrastructure and ruined it. They polluted their own aquifer with sewage.

      Arab Israelis have full citizenship. They live and work in Israel. They serve on the Knesset. The walls are for terrorist hotbeds.

      The US has an existential crisis when we suffer terrorist attacks like 9/11 or the Boston Massacre. October 7th, for a country as small as New Jersey, would be the equivalent of the US suffering a 9/11 in all 50 states on the same day. This would be on top of the regular bombings, and terrorist attacks Israel has suffered since its inception.

      We leveled parts of Afghanistan because 5 Saudis trained there with Bin Ladin and Al Qaeda to perpetrate 9/11. We didn’t drop leaflets to evacuate. Americans didn’t side with Al Qaeda until later, in academia. Israel bends over backward more than any country on Earth, including the US, to avoid civilian casualties, yet they are urged restraint, and not to defend itself. Israel shows restraint already for civilians; it’s Hamas who targets Israeli civilians and prevents its own civilians from getting to safety. We would have vaporized the Gaza Strip if we suffered 50 9/11 from that base of operations, on a single day.

  10. Professor, I admire your consistency and commitment to free speech principles. Yet I find it inappropriate at this time. The Left has been carrying on an aggressive, unapologetic war on the expression of conservative thought. Now is not the time to weep over such trivialities.

    1. “Now is not the time to weep over such trivialities.”

      I understand and sympathize with your sentiment but these are vital ‘trivialities’ that go to the core of our national soul and should not be set aside lightly.

      But it wouldn’t bruise our soul to control our border and to revoke the privilege of studying here for anyone who joins a mob and shouts down speakers, tears down posters, intimidates other students or who openly supports any organization as evil as Hamas and its like.

      We already have quite enough homegrown lunatics without bringing more in.

  11. I agree with Professor Turley about this. At the same time, I don’t believe universities would tolerate student organisations that express support for groups that massacred blacks, gays, trans or any other “protected class, or illegal immigrants, in America to drive them out. Yet they permit student organisations to express support for Hamas. This is an appalling double standard.

    1. And yet the brand of Islam involved here does execute gays and subjugate women. If the women happen to be Jewish their treatment is far worse than subjugation, as we recently witnessed.

  12. While I appreciate the good professor’s efforts to keep things civil, within the Constitution, and the social contract intact, we may have to consider the real possibility of not only WWIII, but the possible social and civil strife we may see in the streets of America.
    The possibility of people taking actual, real violence against the pro-Palestine OR the pro-Israel sides.
    And could that spill over into other divisions within our society, be it race, religion, socio-economic class or political party affiliation?
    I fear for the life of the good professor and his family.
    I fear for my Jewish friends.
    I fear for our nation.

    Invest in chickens, PMs and ammo.

    1. I too fear for Jews. My father owned a store in North Miami Beach that was the epicenter of Judaism at the time (1970s-1990s). My father never learned English (he had a 3rd grade education and his Spanish was not polished), and his Jewish customers did not know Spanish. They communicated with sign language and their need for each other. Yet his business thrived. His customers would often admonish me: Your father is a hard worker. Follow his example. I never thought Jews were lesser than anyone, if anything, better than most and excellent role models. My father thought the world of Jews since they show him how to become an entrepreneur. Some offered to write me letters of recommendation for college if I needed them. I found Jews to be intensely loyal and opinionated, just like Cubans. Thus it pangs me to see the current wave of anti-Semitism enabled by Democrats / MSM.

      Jews will pay Democrats back with kicking them out of office, not that Republicans deserve any assistance. Clowns all of them (Dems and Reps).

      Good Sabbath!

      1. Estovir……That’s a wonderful story about your father…………..and a beautiful and appropriate number from Fiddler.
        Thank you for both.

        1. Thanks Cindy. It seems to me Proverbs 31 applies to you. Your husband is blessed beyond measure to have you. Thanks for your witness.

          Ode to a Capable Wife

          10 A good wife who can find?
          She is far more precious than jewels.
          11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
          and he will have no lack of gain.
          12 She does him good, and not harm,
          all the days of her life.
          13 She seeks wool and flax,
          and works with willing hands.
          14 She is like the ships of the merchant,
          she brings her food from afar.
          15 She rises while it is yet night
          and provides food for her household
          and tasks for her maidens.
          16 She considers a field and buys it;
          with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
          17 She girds her loins with strength
          and makes her arms strong.
          18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
          Her lamp does not go out at night.
          19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
          and her hands hold the spindle.
          20 She opens her hand to the poor,
          and reaches out her hands to the needy.
          21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
          for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
          22 She makes herself coverings;
          her clothing is fine linen and purple.
          23 Her husband is known in the gates,
          when he sits among the elders of the land.
          24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
          she delivers girdles to the merchant.
          25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
          and she laughs at the time to come.
          26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
          and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
          27 She looks well to the ways of her household,
          and does not eat the bread of idleness.
          28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
          her husband also, and he praises her:
          29 “Many women have done excellently,
          but you surpass them all.”
          30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
          but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
          31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
          and let her works praise her in the gates.

          1. Estovir!! You are too, too kind!! I am not worthy of that scripture. It’s far more fitting when remembering my mother….. but I do try…..and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kindness.
            Enjoy the gorgeous autumn foliage up there!!

  13. Just admitted Turley. Confession is good for the soul — assuming lawyers have souls. There are no rules in your crapsucking comment section. The stupidest stuff imaginable gets posted here, and ad hominem attacks are celebrated, especially by the trolls working for the website, and it’s pretty easy to figure out who they upstate oldman are.

  14. HELP

    A number of blogs ago we discussed a video of Lawn Boy presented to the school board along with another book. Does anyone remember the name of the other book and the address of the video.

    If you can please post it here.


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