Justice Department Backs Berkeley Republicans’ Claim That University Infringed on Free Speech Rights

January 26, 2018

by William Vaillancourt

The Department of Justice announced on Thursday that it will support the case of two conservative student groups at the University of California, Berkeley, which allege that the university infringed on their rights to free speech. Berkeley College Republicans (BCR) and Young America’s Foundation (YAF) claim that the university applied a double standard in regard to speech policy.

In their lawsuit, they say Berkeley’s “High-Profile Speaker Policy” offered administrators unfair discretion to decide who was subject to a more rigorous set of rules. They cite the fact that a former president of Mexico and a former White House adviser spoke at the university without the application of that policy.

In a statement of interest, the government contends that the policy constitutes a prior restraint on protected speech that leads to viewpoint discrimination. The university’s interest in campus safety, it adds, does not trump the plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights.

Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand wrote that the Justice Department “will not stand by idly while public universities violate students’ constitutional rights.”

This marks the third time the Justice Department has filed a statement of interest in a First Amendment case under Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The previous two also involved free speech on college campuses.

Source: Justice Department Backs Berkeley Republicans’ Claim That University Infringed on Free Speech Rights

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