A conservative research group in Michigan has issued a far-reaching public records request to the labor studies departments at three public universities in the state, seeking any e-mails involving the Wisconsin labor turmoil. The group, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, declined to explain why it was making the Freedom of Information Act request for material from professors at the University of Michigan, Michigan State and Wayne State University.... This records request, which was filed Friday, comes several days after the Republican Party of Wisconsin made a records request to a prominent University of Wisconsin history professor, William Cronon...I think there have been requests like this before, and I could point to one from a prominent liberal group in the recent past, but I will refrain. I am glad this issue is getting processed in the context of a conservative intruder on a liberal professor, because it will help build support for the position I favor: academic freedom for professors. Come on, all you liberals, commit to the academic freedom position. I want to rely on that in the future.
Greg Scholtz, the director of academic freedom for the American Association of University Professors, said: “We think all this will have a chilling effect on academic freedom. We’ve never seen FOIA requests used like this before.”
March 30, 2011
The NYT reports: