The issue of naming John Doe donour defendants in Professor Steven Salaita’s lawsuit against the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was one of the more creative and interesting aspects of this case. Donour pressure has frequently been a fulcrum in suppressing academic freedom as institutions run for cover when controversy arises, and the corporate university fears a loss of contributions. When financial gifts are at risk, academic freedom is at greater risk. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruling today, as revealed below, appears to be an attenuation of efforts to remove major financial givers from any legal responsibility for their actions.
According to the Center for Constitutional Rights:
“This morning, the district court in the Northern District of Illinois held a hearing to consider a motion filed by the American Jewish Committee for leave to file an amicus curiae brief in support of the yet unnamed John Doe defendant donors to the university. In its motion, AJC argued that the donors should be dismissed from the case and that Professor Salaita should not be able to learn the donors’ identities through the litigation; in essence, they asked the court to find that the donor defendants did nothing wrong. The judge this morning denied the motion, preventing AJC from participating as an amicus at this stage.”