The Berkeley College Republicans and Young America’s Foundation filed a lawsuit against the University of California, Berkeley, Monday over the cancellation of a scheduled event with conservative commentator Ann Coulter — the college cited threats of violence in the decision to cancel.
The planned event with Coulter, originally slated for April 27, caused an uproar among liberal students and radical progressive activists living in the left-wing Berkeley community.
“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.”
The plaintiffs say they are suing Berkeley for its “discriminatory application of a policy to restrict conservative speech on the UC Berkeley campus, in violation of YAF and BCR’s constitutional rights to free speech, due process, and equal protection under law.”
After Berkeley officials initially cancelled the event, the conservative commentator vowed to speak at the original time and locations regardless. In response, Berkeley issued Coulter an alternative date, May 2. Coulter rejected the new date, which would take place during finals week.
“Our lawsuit against Berkeley was just filed. Demands appropriate & safe venue for my speech THIS THURSDAY + damages,” Coulter tweeted Monday, including a link to the lawsuit.
[lz_third_party align=center includes=”https://twitter.com/AnnCoulter/status/856564736778829824″]
The lawsuit noted Berkeley was “once known as the ‘birthplace of the Free Speech Movement,'” but has now opted “to restrict and stifle the free speech of conservative students whose voices fall beyond the campus political orthodoxy.”
“Though UC Berkeley promises its students an environment that promotes free debate and the free exchange of ideas, it had breached this promise through the repressive actions of university administrators and campus police … simply because that expression may anger or offend students, UC Berkeley administrators, and/or community members who do not share Plaintiffs’ viewpoints,” the lawsuit read.
The lawsuit further slammed the reasons given by campus administrators for canceling the event: the threat of violence from leftist radicals.
“Defendants freely admit that they have permitted the demands of a 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 continued.
The plaintiffs also noted that Berkeley has a recent history of canceling or moving scheduled speeches from high-profile conservative speakers, including the cancellation in February of controversial former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos’ speech when dozens of black-clad “antifa” protesters reacted violently, destroying property and setting fires.
The suit also acknowledged the cancelled appearance of conservative writer David Horowitz after imposing curfew and venue restrictions on his visit to campus. The plaintiffs accuse the Berkeley officials of adopting an “unwritten policy regarding high-profile speakers” that actively discriminates against conservative voices.
This festering culture of leftist intolerance and the inability to afford conservatives the right to freedom of speech naturally has drawn widespread criticism from the right. However, former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) added his voice to the mix when he condemned the Berkeley agitators and asked them to reconsider.
“I don’t like this. I don’t like it,” Sanders told The Huffington Post following a rally Thursday night. “Obviously Ann Coulter’s outrageous ― to my mind, off the wall. But you know, people have a right to give their 2 cents’ worth, give a speech, without fear of violence and intimidation.”
“To me, it’s a sign of intellectual weakness,” Sanders continued. “If you can’t ask Ann Coulter in a polite way questions which expose the weakness of her arguments, if all you can do is boo, or shut her down, or prevent her from coming, what does that tell the world?”
“What are you afraid of ― her ideas? Ask her the hard questions,” Sanders said. “Confront her intellectually. Booing people down, or intimidating people, or shutting down events, I don’t think that that works in any way.”
The Berkeley area has been witness to repeated acts of violence against supporters of President Donald Trump. The latest incident occurred April 15, when left-wing agitators attacked Trump supporters at a “Patriots Day” rally in the city. Another incident occurred March 4, when Trump supporters were beaten and bloodied during a “March 4 Trump” rally.