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Free-Speech Lawsuit against UC Berkeley Moves Forward

Ben Bergquam of Fresno holds a sign as he is being surrounded by protestors before an appearance by conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of California in Berkeley, California, September 24, 2017 (Stephen Lam/Reuters)

Conservative students at the University of California, Berkeley will be allowed to move forward with their lawsuit alleging the school discriminated against conservative speakers.

U.S. District Judge Maxine Chesney ruled Wednesday that the lawsuit levied by two student groups can continue, shooting down the school’s request to dismiss it.

The Berkeley College Republicans and the Young America’s Foundation accused the school of efforts to “restrict and stifle the speech of conservative students whose voices fall beyond the campus political orthodoxy,” after two speakers they invited to campus had their events cancelled.

Conservative author Ann Coulter was bumped from a planned appearance at the school in April 2017 after angry protests by left-leaning students caused security concerns. After a national backlash, the school allowed Coulter to speak in early May during a “dead week” when many students were off campus.

Another conservative writer, David Horowitz, had a speech canceled the same month after difficulties with campus security and accommodations, and the previous February, a Milo Yiannopoulos event was also shut down over safety concerns.

Administrators and campus police committed “repressive” actions and let a “faceless, rabid off-campus mob” dictate what speech is allowed on campus, the lawsuit alleges. It goes on to accuse the school of maintaining a “secret” policy for high-profile speakers that was used unfairly against conservatives, and to take issue with the campus’s demand of a $9,162 security fee for Ben Shapiro, compared to the $5,000 charged for an appearance by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Despite allowing the case to continue, the judge maintained she is not convinced the university discriminated against the groups because they are conservative.

“There are no allegations suggesting those concerns were unfounded,” Chesney said of the restrictions.

NOW WATCH: ‘Free Speech On Campus: Can It Be Saved?’

 

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