Attorney Harmeet Dhillon, who is representing the Berkeley College Republicans over restrictions placed on an upcoming Ann Coulter event, argued that UC Berkeley’s policies on acceptable speech are “infinitely malleable,” in a press conference that took place on Monday.
On Monday, attorney Harmeet Dhillon expressed her concerns that the first amendment rights of students are being violated, arguing that UC Berkeley’s vaguely defined policies on speech are unconstitutional.
Policies on acceptable speech at UC Berkeley are “infinitely malleable,” Dhillon argued in a press conference Monday. Dhillon filed suit on behalf of the Berkeley College Republicans and the Young America’s Foundation on Monday morning. The suit alleges that University of California system administrators have violated the first amendment rights of students by placing restrictions events featuring conservative speakers.
An event featuring conservative commentator David Horowitz was ultimately canceled after administrators forced students to host the event at 3 PM, when most students are in class. They also forced students to host the event a mile away from the main campus, which would have likely required students to drive to the venue.
In the press conference, Dhillon argued that the vagueness of UC Berkeley’s policy on speech makes it invalid and unconstitutional. “Cal doesn’t have the rule written down, they have only applied it to these conservative speakers. But let me be clear — it would be equally illegitimate for Cal to bar the speech of a liberal speaker because a conservative group vowed to protest and disrupt that speech. That’s also illegal,” she said. “We don’t view this as a conservative-liberal issue, we view this as a constitutional issue, we view this as a ‘void for the vague’ issue, a government policy that is not written, that is infinitely malleable standards and can be applied arbitrarily based on a viewpoint is unconstitutional, it’s void for vagueness.”
“We don’t view this as a conservative-liberal issue, we view this as a constitutional issue, we view this as a ‘void for the vague’ issue, a government policy that is not written, that is infinitely malleable standards and can be applied arbitrarily based on a viewpoint is unconstitutional, it’s void for vagueness,” she emphasized.
Dhillon spoke about ensuring that students and speakers have equal access to public university resources, arguing that “the university is a limited public forum. As a matter of law, it is required to give equal access to speakers of different viewpoints.”
Speaking about the role that student protesters have played in forcing the administrator to set unusual restrictions on conservative lecture events, she argued that universities cannot allow hecklers to interfere with legitimate speech rights.
“The administration is required to provide a content-neutral platform of equal access to all students groups to access their facilities. They cannot discriminate on the basis of viewpoint or popularity,” Dhillon added.
Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about economics and higher education for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org