In a second legal letter, the Berkeley College Republicans and the Young America’s Foundation have demanded that administrators allow Ann Coulter’s upcoming lecture to proceed as it was originally scheduled.
The letter, which was the second message sent from attorney Harmeet K. Dhillon to university administrators, is in response to communication with Berkeley’s Chief Campus Counsel and Associate General Counsel Christopher Patti and claims that the Berkeley College Republicans will pursue legal action if the university fails to protect Coulter’s First Amendment right to speak on campus.
“UC Berkeley only began raising more and more issues about the event, and piling on new and more arbitrary restrictions, as the date drew closer,” Dhillon wrote. “Despite six weeks of notice that a famous author would be coming to Berkeley to speak, and that the students sponsoring her wanted to know about security arrangements and venues where they could accommodate ticketed guests, and more than a full four weeks after learning of a confirmed date, desired time, and two desired venues for the event, your administration played a shell game with the two student groups.”
Dhillon expressed concern that the administration decided to place new restrictions on the event just two weeks before it was set to take place. “After offering and discussing all of the above potential venues with the student groups for some time, UC Berkeley administrators then suddenly announced a new barrier to the venue confirmation by informing the students on April 13 – now a mere two weeks before the event the University had notice of for four weeks already – that there was a new, unpublished University policy, developed in a meeting on March 1, 2017, without student organization input,” she wrote.
“Thank you for conceding in your letter today that UC Berkeley chooses to limit speech as a direct result of the successful misconduct of ‘some of the same groups that previously engaged in local violent action,'” she continued. “In other words, all one has to do to silence conservative speakers at UC Berkeley, is to don a mask and become violent, or place anonymous phone calls to the administration threatening such violence.”
“Unfortunately for UC Berkeley’s sui generis policies for stifling conservative speech, the Constitution does not permit the heckler’s veto to drown out the voices of speakers in otherwise permitted places,” Dhillon declared.
Dhillon argued that Berkeley administrators used Orwellian double-speak when they suggested that, in the name of protecting Coulter’s First Amendment right to free speech, would have to look to an alternative date in which security could best prepare to handle possible violence.
“Your letter suggests that that the University wants to ‘work with the [BCR] to find an alternative date when the event could be held as safely as possible.’ This is Orwellian double-speak,” she wrote. “Thanks to the prior success of the non-student criminals at silencing conservative speech at UC Berkeley, they appear to be here to stay, so it is disingenuous at best to suggest that there is some date in the future and some place on the campus where conservative invitees may speak free of protest, interference – or arbitrary administration censorship in the guise of rules.”
“Recognizing that we now live in a place and time where people such as BCR’s invited speakers will face local protest, UC Berkeley is still obligated under the law to make its facilities available to student groups in a content-neutral and even-handed manner, and no amount of “double-secret” rules for certain speakers, relieves the University of this obligation,” Dhillon argued.
“Should the University choose to reconsider its decision to bar Ms. Coulter from speaking in a similar time, place, venue, and level of accessibility to students able to hear her speak, as it affords speakers with favored voices, we will be pleased to suspend our lawsuit preparation and work with you to finalize the venue and time of her speech on April 27 as planned, and for which there are available venues,” Dhillon concluded. “If we do not hear from you, we expect to file suit shortly and seek interim relief soon thereafter.”
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