YAF Sues University of Minnesota For Suppressing Free Speech Over Shapiro Event

On Tuesday, Young America’s Foundation (YAF), Students for a Conservative Voice (SCV), and Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro filed a First Amendment lawsuit against the University of Minnesota, charging the university with unconstitutionally infringing upon students’ First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights by suppressing Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro’s speech and relocating it to a smaller, more isolated venue in late February 2018, “all because Defendants and others students and faculty members disagreed with the content and viewpoint of Plaintiffs’ speech.”

AS YAF wrote in their statement:

School policy permits administrators to wield unbridled discretion to suppress student speech that administrators dislike. The University of Minnesota has a long history of welcoming leftist guest speakers to campus, but when conservative students invited Ben Shapiro to speak at a YAF-sponsored lecture, administrators put the school’s Speech Suppression policy into action.

University administrators schemed to limit student exposure to Mr. Shapiro’s conservative ideas. They banished Shapiro’s lecture to the St. Paul campus, refusing to allow him to speak on the University’s main campus in Minneapolis, and they arbitrarily limited student attendance to 500 attendees.

Internal emails obtained by Young America’s Foundation through the Censorship Exposed project revealed top-level administrators’ plans to arbitrarily cap attendance at Shapiro’s lecture and move the event to the St. Paul Campus—all despite misleading public statements to the contrary.

The lawsuit states:

By ratifying and effectuating a heckler’s veto through the enforcement of the Speech Suppression Policy, Defendants denied Plaintiffs the right to use a public forum for their expressive activity based on the content and viewpoint of Plaintiffs’ message in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

By granting use of a public forum to people whose views the Defendants find acceptable, but denying use to those expressing less favored views through the enforcement of the Speech Suppression Policy, Defendants have violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

By refusing to enforce other policies and regulations pursuant to Speech Suppression Policy, based on the adverse reaction of others to the content and viewpoint of Plaintiffs’ message, the Defendants have deprived Plaintiffs of the equal protection of the law guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.

By refusing to protect Plaintiffs’ speech activity pursuant to the Speech Suppression Policy and permitting and participating with blockaders to engage in unlawful, disorderly, and disruptive conduct designed to silence Plaintiffs’ message based on its content and viewpoint, the Defendants imposed a heckler’s veto and deprived Plaintiffs of the equal protection of the law guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Young America’s Foundation spokesman Spencer Brown asserted:

The free and open exchange of ideas is critical to a student’s education, but the University of Minnesota is depriving its student body of an intellectually diverse learning environment. Administrators’ discriminatory treatment of conservatives—quarantining Shapiro and a limited number of students who wished to hear his ideas to a remote area of the St. Paul Campus—was a result of administrators’ disagreement with the viewpoint of Shapiro’s speech. Young America’s Foundation remains committed to holding administrators accountable for their censorship of conservative students at the University of Minnesota and across the country.

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