Via America’s Lawyer: FL governor DeSantis signs a law mandating public college students disclose their political affiliations. Mike Papantonio and Farron Cousins discuss more.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis has signed a law mandating all public college students and faculty to disclose their political views. He claims it’s to fight indoctrination but critics view it as a blatant violation of individual rights. Joining me to talk about this is my friend Farron Cousins from the trial lawyer magazine. Welcome back. You had a short vacation.

Farron Cousins:                  Thank you, I did.

Mike Papantonio:             I’m glad to have you back. Wow. This story, it’s, it’s, there’s only a couple of pages of this story, but there’s tons to talk about here, right?

Farron Cousins:                  There really is. You know, this is, it’s kind of shocking, you know, obviously we’re down here in Florida and we’ve seen Ron DeSantis kind of go through and, and he pushes a lot of bills, signs a lot of legislation, that is essentially designed to fail. And I think this is another one of those pieces of legislation. He knows this is not going to hold up in court. You can’t mandate that these college students and the professors, and it says all faculty. So we could be talking about, you know, custodial staff has to fill out these, these forms to identify their political views. That, that’s nobody’s business on that college campus.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. So let, let’s, let’s put this in perspective. This is a Harvard, DeSantis is Harvard educated. This guy is not a dummy. I don’t care. You might not like him.

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             But he is not a dummy. So what is this about? He knows there’s first amendment problems. People have a right to express their beliefs. You can’t stifle that. He knows that, that this is the quickest way to, to, to shut down political beliefs by stifling them. And he knows that the lack of clarity in this bill is overwhelming. There’s no way this is going to stand up in court. So why is he doing it?

Farron Cousins:                  He’s doing it because Ron DeSantis wants to run for president in 2024. And this is good red meat for the conservative base. I mean, there’s plenty of organizations out there, conservative organizations, whose sole purpose is to point out, you know, liberal bias in colleges. You know, it’s paper thin arguments that they put out there because most colleges really are fairly even handed. You know, individual political ideology does not play a big role in the classrooms, except for maybe in a few extreme cases. But it’s a culture war issue for Republicans. They eat it up. DeSantis says, listen, I can do this. I can get the publicity of passing this legislation and then by the time the courts strike it down, nobody’s paying attention anymore. They only know that I did it. Not that it didn’t stand.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. The irony here, Florida is 45th in the United States. You understand, 45th where it comes to education, number 45 out of 50. And, and, you know, he, he knows this and he knows it is, as you point out it’s red meat. He, he’s really going after the critical race theory, isn’t it? That, that’s the bandwagon. Talk, just, just give me a 10,000 foot. Most people don’t even know what it is. What is, I mean, if you ask either side, ask somebody who yeah, I’m for the critical race theory. Really? What is it? Ask somebody who’s against it. I don’t know what it is, but I’m against it. Talk about it just a little.

Farron Cousins:                  Right. You know, essentially this was this theory put forward in the 1970s, I believe it was, they were, been looking at, you know, basically the founding of the country, the way laws are written, the way, you know, regulations work even within private industries. And they did find there is a common thread, essentially, there is this built-in racism. You know, you see it a lot in the banking industry with the red lining, things like that. You see it with the way laws are upheld. You see it in sentencing of different defendants. And that’s all it is, is saying, we have to acknowledge this inherent, you know, racial discrepancy in the way the country works. And by acknowledging it, we can fix it. That’s all it is.

Mike Papantonio:             And that’s what the 1619 project, it all ties together with that. That is make, make kids aware of it, you know, and.

Farron Cousins:                  And let’s do better. That’s all it’s saying is, let’s do better.

Mike Papantonio:             Let’s do better, it is.

Farron Cousins:                  But I do have to say with, with this DeSantis thing here, he, he recently, outpolled Donald Trump in a straw poll at a conservative convention in Denver this past weekend. So DeSantis’ stock is rising, whatever he’s doing is working.

Mike Papantonio:             Like him or hate him, he is a very, very capable contender here.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.