Assault on Research and Academic Freedom

Dear Ron,

The Trump administration’s disregard for assaults on science has been well documented by the AAUP, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and others. Now President Trump himself has attacked the credibility of a study by George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health. He falsely claimed that the study, which found some 2,975 excess deaths in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria hit the island in September 2017, was “done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible.”

The AAUP takes no position on the accuracy or inaccuracy of the GWU study or, for that matter, of any other scientific research.  But such research can be properly evaluated only by qualified experts through open channels of review and debate. Studies of this sort must not become political footballs.  For the president of the United States to accuse scholars of political bias, without a shred of evidence, is an unacceptable assault on independent research and the academic freedom of scientists.

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P.S. A link to the statement can be found here.

Amicus brief supports sanctuary jurisdictions

The AAUP joined this week with other groups, including members of the California Community College System, in filing an amicus brief in support of a permanent injunction against a Trump administration executive order that sought to strip federal funding from “sanctuary jurisdictions.” The lawsuit resulting in the injunction was filed by the city of San Francisco. The AAUP’s interest in the case stems from the potential application of the executive order to colleges and universities. Such an extension would negatively impact colleges’ and universities’ ability to carry out their public mission and their interests in developing a diverse student body. Allowing the executive order to stand would also set a dangerous precedent for the proposition that the president may unilaterally use the threat of withholding federal funding in a broad and punitive manner as part of an effort to coerce colleges and universities to participate in federal immigration enforcement. Joining this amicus brief enables the AAUP to participate in a precedent-setting case on issues of great national significance that affect the ability of universities to develop and support a diverse student body, regardless of students’ immigration status.

The case, now in front of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, is the City and County of San Francisco v. Trump. The brief was primarily authored by Robin Johansen and Kathleen Purcell, attorneys with Remcho Johansen & Purcell LLP.

Risa Lieberwitz
AAUP General Counsel