UC Berkeley conservatives allowed to proceed with free speech lawsuit against campus

On September 26, 2011 students assemble at Wheeler Hall at 7:00 PM in protest of the controversal Berkeley College Republicans "Increase Diversity Bake Sale". Shortly after assembling at Wheeler students begin moving towards the MLK building, passing through Sather Gate, and onwards to the Multicultural and Community Center.
Rashad Sisemore/File
On September 26, 2011 students assemble at Wheeler Hall at 7:00 PM in protest of the controversal Berkeley College Republicans "Increase Diversity Bake Sale". Shortly after assembling at Wheeler students begin moving towards the MLK building, passing through Sather Gate, and onwards to the Multicultural and Community Center.

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A federal judge denied UC Berkeley’s request to dismiss a lawsuit claiming that the campus discriminated against high-profile speakers such as Ann Coulter after the chaotic Milo Yiannopoulos protest in February 2017.

District Judge Maxine Chesney ruled Wednesday that the plaintiffs, Young America’s Foundation, or YAF, and Berkeley College Republicans, or BCR, adequately alleged that campus administrators applied broad “major events” policies to suppress conservative speech.

The lawsuit, filed in December 2017, alleged that the campus imposed “unconstitutionally high security fees” and “impermissibly vague” policies on high-profile speakers on campus.

“The campus strongly contends that the fees charged were lawful and appropriate, and this ruling does not conclude otherwise,” campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said in a statement.

The ruling upheld the campus’s revised major events policy that it adopted last year, according to Mogulof. The ruling also allowed the plaintiffs to proceed with their allegation that an “unwritten” speaker policy exists, which Mogulof said the campus “strongly denies.”

In the ruling, Chesney added that she was “unpersuaded” by the plaintiffs’ claim that the campus engaged in “viewpoint discrimination.”

YAF and BCR filed an earlier lawsuit in April 2017 after the cancellation of Ann Coulter’s campus event, which was originally scheduled for April but was then postponed by the campus to May. Coulter then canceled the event, calling it “a sad day for free speech.”

This lawsuit was dismissed October 2017 and the plaintiffs were given a 30-day period to amend their complaint.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.


Anjali Shrivastava covers academics and administration. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @anjalii_shrivas.