The Alabama Legislature has taken or threatened to take measures to rein in the push toward a liberal-left political philosophy within the state's public education system, including K-12 and institutions of higher learning.
That includes restrictions on free speech and a proposed effort to ban so-called divisive concepts, like Critical Race Theory.
However, according to State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), chairman of the House Education Trust Fund Budget Committee, Auburn University and the University of Alabama could be working to oppose the legislature's authority over the two schools.
During an interview with Huntsville radio WVNN's "The Dale Jackson Show," Orr was asked if the legislature could pass a bill rejecting pronoun declaration and other exercises in the name of diversity, as the University of Alabama is reportedly doing.
Orr was noncommittal on that specific issue but said a broader fight was shaping up regarding how much autonomy Auburn and Alabama have, given they were constitutionally mandated institutions.
"[T]he school should have a great deal of autonomy," Orr said. "The boards of trustees manage them. They hire the executive staff, the president. The provosts are all hired – all that executive team that is managing the schools, the various schools. The legislature really shouldn't get involved in all of that.
"However, there is a fight brewing on the horizon with how much autonomy do Auburn and Alabama, who are constitutionally ensconced – they are created under the state constitution as opposed to regional institutions or, of course, the junior colleges. So, how much authority do we have over them?
Orr said the schools are resisting legislative oversight.
Orr said, "Because their retort and they've done it in a recent court case currently pending before the Alabama Supreme Court regarding free speech and an act of the legislature – one of their defenses is, 'We are constitutionally created, and the legislature has no ability to regulate us by certain legislation. A general bill, perhaps, but a bill based on free speech on college campuses, which was in their purview – they say, 'Eh, the legislature doesn't have that authority. We control that.'
"So that – I call that a battle or disagreement – is on the horizon, in fact, in our state courts. This next quadrennium, it could really come to where there is a situation. I don't know if it is going to be pronouns, but there's going to come a situation where the legislature may, emphasis 'may,' assert itself as who has the ultimate authority on the flagship campuses in our state."
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email jeff.poor@1819News.com.
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