US Department of Justice supports free speech lawsuit against UC Berkeley

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The lawsuit filed against UC Berkeley by The Young America’s Foundation, or YAF, and the Berkeley College Republicans, or BCR, now has the official support of the U.S. Department of Justice, or DOJ, as of Thursday.

While the lawsuit was dismissed in October 2017, YAF and BCR amended their claims and resubmitted it in November. The lawsuit alleges that campus officials violated conservative students’ 1st Amendment right to free speech on campus.

“Plaintiffs’ amended complaint adequately pleads that the University’s speech restrictions violate the First Amendment, and therefore, at least to that extent, the Court should deny Defendants’ motion to dismiss,” the DOJ Statement of Interest said.

In the original lawsuit, the alleged 1st Amendment violation was concerning the high-profile speaker policy due to the cancellation of Ann Coulter’s speech in April 2017.

The lawsuit was later amended to include alleged violations of the 1st Amendment and the campus’ major event policy in regards to Ben Shapiro’s event in September 2017, according to YAF spokesperson Spencer Brown.

“The allegations made by the plaintiffs in this lawsuit are unfounded. Berkeley does not discriminate against speakers invited by student organizations based upon viewpoint.” campus spokesperson Roqua Montez said.

Brown said U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions filed a Statement of Interest for this lawsuit, which means that if the allegations are proven to be true, then there will have been a confirmed violation of the 1st Amendment. Brown added that there will be a hearing for the lawsuit Feb. 16.

“The school’s policy to bring in conservative speakers and any other event that’s conservative is much harder than it is for liberal students,” Brown said. “The university was selectively enforcing these policies that made it much harder for conservatives to bring in speakers and express their ideas.”

Brown said campus administrators can express their bias through choosing how and when to enforce these policies, but the lawsuit, if successful, would remove administrative bias from this process altogether.

“The Berkeley College Republicans are grateful to the DOJ for filing a Statement of Interest into the lawsuit of discriminatory practices in stifling the guaranteed constitutional right of free speech brought against UC Berkeley,” said BCR President Bradley Devlin in a YAF press release.

Cal Berkeley Democrats President Caiden Nason responded to the claims by stating that all student organizations at UC Berkeley are limited by the same guidelines and event policies as the conservative organizations.

Nason claimed there would be no issue if the event policies had been followed by BCR and YAF.

“We are a public university with limited funding, it takes a while. You have to follow the process. You need six week notice,” Nason said.

Nason also said he does not believe there is grounds for this lawsuit and referred to it as a “waste of time and resources.”

“This suit has already been dismissed by the Court once. The campus will continue to vigorously defend itself against these allegations.” Montez said.

Rishabh Nijhawan is the lead higher education reporter. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @realRishNij.

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  • Sigrid Halvorssen


  • C Bierbauer78

    Yaffies don’t want Free Speech, they want their hate speech to be normalized instead of being classified as the abusive behavior that it is.

    • Rollie

      You’ve struck a distinction where none exists, and so without realizing it, you’ve validated the lawsuit’s central claim about the principle of free speech, notwithstanding the lawsuit’s burden to prove actual restriction by the university. Under the law, there is no separation of what you consider to be “hate speech” from what is protected by the Constitution.

    • Killer Marmot

      Whatever the YAF’s motives, do you acknowledge their right to bring in speakers without undo restrictions by the administration?

      • California Defender

        He clearly doesn’t as that is a central philosophical position (and weapon) of the left. Free speech for us, none for anyone else.

        Their views frequently fail in the marketplace of ideas, so oppression is their only path to power.

        • Allen Windhorn

          Not mine, I’m an ACLU member. Anyway I kind of like Ann Coulter, even though she’s a nitwit [ad hominem attack].

          • California Defender

            If only the ACLU was a laudable organization that honestly supported civil liberties, I would applaud your virtue signalling. But, alas, they are not.

            Did you know the ACLU issued a memo after the State of the Union speech by the President complaining that he had the audacity to say “America” more than 80 times?

            They might as well remove the “A” from their name, too.

      • C Bierbauer78

        I am under no suck compulsion. Some speakers are clearly toxic and inspire violence.

        Where the F*** do you get off demanding that the University subsidize your violent speakers?

        • Killer Marmot

          We both know the violence lies in those who try to shut down the speakers.

    • Jorge Carolinos

      The local leftists have gone a long way to normalizing political violence, which as it happens is already against the law and by many considered abusive behavior.

      If you are so weak that “hate speech” sways you then you have some issues.

      • lspanker

        If you are so weak that “hate speech” sways you then you have some issues.

        A most accurate description of Beerblower and his fellow travelers…

        • Jorge Carolinos

          The concerns about “hate speech” are paternalistic in nature.

    • ESPM360

      Will you please provide list of acceptable speakers for UCB?

    • lspanker

      I find it amusing that the local troll who needs to lock his comments from public view to keep others from seeing his flames and insults, accuses others of “abusive behavior”…