The University of California, Berkeley is trying to dismiss a free speech lawsuit filed following the cancellation of Ann Coulter’s speech at the school in April.
UC Berkeley attorneys—including Janet Napolitano, system president of the University of California, and Nicholas Dirks, chancellor of UC Berkeley—insist the claims made by Young America’s Foundation and the Berkeley College Republicans are “moot,” according to a court document obtained by Campus Reform Friday.
“The alleged restrictions were viewpoint neutral because they were not motivated by disagreement with the speaker’s viewpoint,” said the attorneys.
The attorneys assert that the cancellation Coulter’s speech had nothing to do with the author’s political views, arguing that there were instead “constitutional ‘time, place, and, manner regulations’” which restricted her speech.
“This weak attempt by the University of California, Berkeley to brush off their egregious free speech violations is staggering but unfortunately unsurprising given their demonstrated pattern of suppressing the First Amendment rights of conservatives on campus,” said Spencer Brown, spokesman for Young America’s Foundation. “As Young America’s Foundation has done throughout the last half-century, YAF will continue to stand up for students’ rights when their own schools engage in flagrant obstruction of free expression.”
Dan Mogulof, an assistant vice chancellor at Berkeley, said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation that recent events at UC Berkeley have shown there is “insufficient awareness” as to the school’s speaker policies. He also acknowledged that policies currently in place “should be unified, standardized, and clarified.”
“Statements reasserting and emphasizing our existing policies and practices that make clear speaker viewpoints will not influence decisions relating to event approval or required security measures” will be added to the policy, according to Mogulof, a statement that suggests UC Berkeley administrators believe the school never did discriminate based on the political viewpoint of potential speakers.
“[UC Berkeley police] place the safety and well-being of our students as the lead priority which can, at rare times, lead the department to forego short-term arrests,” said Mogulof, denying the “stand down policy” that observers suspected the police to have.
“These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis by command staff based on their professional assessment, and suffice it to say there is nothing precluding them form effecting arrests if they believe that can be done with creating serious risk and danger for innocent bystanders and/or those who elect to engage in lawful protest.”
The assistant vice chancellor noted that while a new draft policy for campus speakers is not yet available for public consumption, the school intends to implement an interim policy by Aug. 13 before the start of the fall semester.
Berkeley has been the site of several protests and altercations between Donald Trump supporters and antifascists in 2017, including the riot that canceled conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos’ February speech, a March 4 Trump conflict, and a Patriots Day rally skirmish in April.
The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to UC Berkeley for comment, but received none in time for press.