On Monday, the College Republicans of the University of California, Merced, sent a letter to Chancellor Dorothy Leland warning that they would file suit against the university for charging a $17,000 security fee for Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro’s April 12 speech.
The College Republicans are represented by Freedom X, which wrote that the university’s actions “violate fundamental principles of free speech, equal protection, and due process guaranteed by the United States Constitution.”
The letter, written by Freedom X founder William J. Becker, noted that Harry Duran, president of the UC Merced College Republicans, and/or other members of the College Republicans had met with campus administrators four or five times, but when Duran questioned the notification of the fee on February 23, asking what written policy of the university justified it, he was told there was “nothing on the books” to support it.
The letter cited Forsyth County vs. Nationalist Movement, in which the Supreme Court ruled that when public authorities impose a fee for speaking based on the estimated costs of security, it violates the First Amendment. The letter continues, “We cannot possibly understand why such exorbitant fees must be necessary. … We can only surmise because Ben Shapiro has been targeted by political activists in the past, UCM is basing its fee estimate on Shapiro’s conservative viewpoint.”
Becker wrote, “Individuals wishing to silence speech with which they disagree merely have to threaten to protest. This is an unacceptable result in a free society and is especially lamentable on a college or university campus. Controversial speech cannot be unduly burdened simply because it is controversial.”
Duran said the school has since reduced the security fee to $1,823, but Becker and the College Republicans will not be satisfied until the fee is rescinded entirely.