Coulter backers file lawsuit against UC Berkeley

Ann Coulter Berkeley
Ann Coulter, shown in a recent appearance on The National, promises to be at the University of California, Berkeley to speak April 27 despite the school’s cancellation and offer to reschedule. She says it is a free speech issue. (Source: YouTube, The National)

On Monday, the Young America’s Foundation and Berkeley College Republicans, two conservative college groups that invited columnist Ann Coulter to speak at UC Berkeley, filed a lawsuit against the college and Janet Napolitano, President of the University of California, alleging violation of the First Amendment right to free speech, Fox News reported.

According to Fox:

A legal team led by Harmeet Dhillon, a San Francisco attorney who represents the Berkeley College Republicans, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

Dhillon is also a committeewoman to the Republican National Convention for California and former vice chairwoman of the California Republican Party.

“This case arises from efforts by one of California’s leading public universities, UC Berkeley — once known as the “birthplace of the Free Speech Movement” — to restrict and stifle the speech of conservative students whose voices fall beyond the campus political orthodoxy,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit further accuses the college of enabling what it called an “unlawful heckler’s veto.”

Defendants engage in a pattern and practice of enforcing a recently adopted, unwritten and unpublished policy that vests in University officials the unfettered discretion to unreasonably restrict the time, place, and manner of any campus event involving “high-profile speakers” – a term that is wholly undefined, and that has enabled Defendants to apply this policy in a discriminatory fashion, resulting in the marginalization of the expression of conservative viewpoints on campus by any notable conservative speaker. Defendants freely admit that they have permitted the demands of a faceless, rabid, off-campus mob to dictate what speech is permitted at the center of campus during prime time, and which speech may be marginalized, burdened, and regulated out of its very existence by this unlawful heckler’s veto.

The lawsuit further said:

Defendants’ discriminatory imposition of curfew and venue restrictions has resulted in the cancellation of two speaking engagements featuring prominent conservative speakers in the month of April, 2017. First, BCR was forced to cancel a scheduled April 12, 2017 speaking engagement by David Horowitz, a widely acclaimed conservative writer, after the University first demanded that Horowitz speak before 3 p.m. in the afternoon, at a time when students are in class and most are unable to attend, and then demanded that the speech take place in a room on a separate campus that is more than one mile from the main campus center (so far away, in fact, that it even has its own track facilities). Then, less than two weeks later, after weeks of discussion, the University unilaterally canceled a speaking engagement by Ann Coulter, a nationally renowned New York Times bestselling author and conservative political commentator, which was previously scheduled to take place on campus on April 27, 2017.

“In the ensuing national firestorm of criticism, the University partially retracted its cancellation of the Coulter event, offering to allow Ms. Coulter to speak the following week, on May 2, 2017 – during a period referred to by the University as a ‘dead week,’ in which no classes are held, and far fewer students are on campus due to final exams the week following – but still insisted that the event would be subject to a 3:00 p.m. curfew and unspecified venue restrictions. Meanwhile, Defendants freely permitted the expression of non-conservative viewpoints by notable, liberal speakers addressing the same contentious topic Ms. Coulter planned to address – illegal immigration – during the same month, including Vincente Fox Quesada, the former President of Mexico, and Maria Echaveste, a former presidential advisor and White House Deputy Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton,” the lawsuit adds.

“Accordingly, YAF and BCR seek temporary and permanent injunctive relief to prevent Defendants from continuing to muzzle Plaintiffs’ constitutionally-protected speech, and to enjoin the Defendants’ transparent attempts to stifle political discourse at UC Berkeley. Plaintiffs also seek damages from each Defendant sued in his or her individual capacity,” the document says.

The college said that it reportedly has intelligence indicating Coulter’s appearance would present security concerns and attorneys for the school say they “are on very solid legal grounds.”

Coulter, however, says she intends to be at the college this Thursday, no matter what.


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Joe Newby

A 10-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Joe ran for a city council position in Riverside, Calif., in 1991 and managed successful campaigns for the Idaho state legislature. Co-author of "Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad," Joe wrote for Examiner.com from 2010 until it closed in 2016 and his work has been published at Newsbusters, Spokane Faith and Values and other sites. He now runs the Conservative Firing Line.

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