Judge Says Conservative Student Groups Can Sue UC Berkeley over Speech Restrictions

Elijah Nouvelage/Getty
Elijah Nouvelage/Getty

A U.S. District Judge ruled this week that conservative student groups will be able to proceed with their First Amendment lawsuit against UC Berkeley.

According to a report from SFGate, U.S. District Judge Maxine Chesney of Oakland decided on Wednesday that UC Berkeley’s recent speech restrictions were motivated by security concerns rather than partisan bias. Despite this, Chesney said that conservative student groups at UC Berkeley will be permitted to proceed with their lawsuit, which claims that the university violated their First Amendment rights by placing unusual restrictions and astronomical security fees on visits by guest speakers.

The Berkeley College Republicans have hosted a number of high-profile conservative guests such as David Horowitz and Ann Coulter. Coulter canceled her appearance after the university required the group to host the event during class hours and far from the center of campus.

The student groups allege that UC Berkeley adopted an unwritten “high-profile speaker” policy that allowed administrators to subjectively determine restrictions for conservative guest speaker events.

The group’s attorney, Harmeet Dhillon, claims that she is satisfied with the judge’s ruling. “It means the case will go forward,” she said.

Much has been written about the issue of a heckler’s veto at UC Berkeley. A heckler’s veto refers to when the government suppresses speech due to a fear of a potential violence from protesters. Public universities across the country are currently forced to convince their students that restrictions placed on partisan political events are not the result of preemptive intimidation by potential protesters.

Breitbart News has written extensively about the concept of “security fee censorship.” A direct descendant of the “heckler’s veto,” security fee censorship refers to the notion that universities can get away with shutting down partisan political events by charging extremely high security fees that student groups can’t afford.




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