The University of Minnesota has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed against it by Young America’s Foundation, Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro, and the student group Students for a Conservative Voice (SCV) that argues top-level administrators at the university participated in “viewpoint-based censorship” of conservative students.
The lawsuit arose after Shapiro was scheduled to speak at the university last February and the university would not offer a lecture hall on the main campus for the event. As AlphaNews reports, “internal emails later revealed top-level UMN administrators actively censored the event featuring Shapiro.” The defendants named in the lawsuit include the president of the university; the vice president of university services; the chief of police of the university; the lieutenant of the University of Minnesota police department, and the assistant director of Student Unions & Activities of University of Minnesota.
YAF has contended that the e-mails show the university’s speech suppression policy “permits administrators to wield unbridled discretion to suppress student speech that administrators dislike.”
YAF spokesperson Spencer Brown told Alpha News, “The disparate treatment of conservatives versus prominent leftists proves the ideological censorship carried out by the University of Minnesota. While Ben Shapiro was sequestered to a smaller venue in an unfavorable location far from the main campus area, prominent liberals such as now-disgraced Senator Al Franken and Supreme Court justices were allowed to speak in many of the venues Shapiro was barred from.”
But the university argues that the venue Shapiro ultimately used was chosen for security reasons and did not violate the First Amendment. The university stated, “The Constitution does not guarantee a right to host an event in a particular venue,” adding that campus buildings belong to a class of limited public forums where viewpoint-neutral speech restrictions may be implemented. The university also said it aided SCV by adding extra seating to the venue and live-streaming the speech.
Brown countered, “The University of Minnesota can file as many motions as they want, but it doesn’t change the fact that the U of M treated Ben Shapiro — and the conservative students working to bring intellectual diversity to their campus — differently than the scores of liberals who’ve been granted favorable venues. UC Berkeley lost in court on its motion to dismiss YAF’s First Amendment lawsuit against the school, and we believe the University of Minnesota will lose on that argument as well.”