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A judge will consider a request to block Florida's higher intellectual freedom surveys

Opponents want to block the higher ed surveys from going out next week.
Artur Szczybylo
Artur - stock.adobe.com
Opponents want to block the higher ed surveys from going out next week.

A federal judge is slated Friday to weigh a request to block Florida from issuing surveys on “intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity” at state colleges and universities.

The surveys are part of a law (HB 233) approved last year by the Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis. The law requires that colleges and universities survey students and employees annually.

Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker will hear arguments Friday on an emergency motion filed by opponents seeking a preliminary injunction against issuing the surveys next week. Groups, students and faculty members filed the lawsuit last year, arguing that the law violates the First Amendment.

Meanwhile, higher-education officials are going ahead with a plan to launch the surveys for the first time. State university system Chancellor Marshall Criser on Wednesday said surveys are set to go out. “The plan right now is to have the survey open at 12:01 a.m. Monday,” Criser told the university system’s Board of Governors.

Criser said more than 1 million people will receive advance notices this week to expect the surveys. “I hope this is a pride point when I talk to you again. This has never been done in this country before. We are doing a hundred-percent census of our students, our faculty and our staff,” Criser said of the surveys, which are not required to be filled out.

If Walker issues an injunction, the surveys could be delayed as the legal battle plays out. Walker has scheduled a trial to start Sept. 19.