Backers of Coulter File Lawsuit Against UC Berkeley - NECN
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Backers of Coulter File Lawsuit Against UC Berkeley

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    Berkeley College Republicans and supporters of Ann Coulter are making good on their promise. A legal team representing the student group and the conservative provocateur on Monday slapped UC Berkeley with a lawsuit claiming the university violated free speech rights when it called off Coulter's speaking visit. Ian Cull reports. (Published Tuesday, April 25, 2017)

    Berkeley College Republicans and supporters of Ann Coulter are making good on their promise.

    A legal team representing the student group and the conservative provocateur on Monday slapped the University of California, Berkeley with a lawsuit claiming the university violated free speech rights when it called off Coulter's speaking visit.

    "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 read in part.

    Berkeley College Republicans scheduled Coulter's visit for April 27, but the university last week called off the event for security reasons.

    Days later, the university changed course and allowed the event to go on, but it penciled in her visit for May 2 instead of this upcoming Thursday. That rescheduling decision prompted the student group and Coulter's legal team to promise a lawsuit, which was fulfilled Monday.

    The University of California system, UC Berkeley Police Department and numerous university officials were named in the lawsuit.

    Harmeet Dhillon, a lawyer for Berkeley College Republicans, held a news conference in San Francisco later in the day to discuss the lawsuit.

    "Ms. Coulter will pretty much never be allowed to speak at the same time, place and manner as liberal speakers on the Berkeley campus, Dhillon said. "This is unconstitutional."

    Meanwhile, Coulter has announced on Twitter she is coming to Berkeley on April 27.

    Congresswoman Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, said the threat of violent protest should convince any sane person to reschedule.

    "I believe this is a political effort by her to sell more books, get more attention and promote Ann Coulter," Speier said. 

    UC Berkeley provided the following statement Monday in response to the lawsuit:

    The University of California welcomes speakers of all political viewpoints and is committed to providing a forum to enable Ann Coulter to speak on the Berkeley campus. The allegation contained in the complaint filed by Young America’s Foundation that Ms. Coulter is being prohibited from speaking because of her conservative views is untrue. As the complaint itself notes, Young America’s Foundation has sponsored many other speaking events at UC Berkeley in past years, including that of conservative political commentator and author Ben Shapiro, and the organization’s efforts have led many notable conservatives to share their viewpoints with students and the public on campus. UC Berkeley has been working to accommodate a mutually agreeable time for Ms. Coulter’s visit – which has not yet been scheduled – and remains committed to doing so. The campus seeks to ensure that all members of the Berkeley and larger community – including Ms. Coulter herself – remain safe during such an event.