(CNS News) – On Friday, Nov. 30, the Young America’s Foundation (YAF), a conservative student organization, settled its free speech lawsuit against the University of California- Berkeley, an institution that will now have to pay YAF $70,000 and rescind certain unconstitutional and discriminatory policies at the school.
Friday’s settlement guaranteed that students will be able to use U.C. Berkeley facilities on a “first-come, first-served basis” to host speakers, regardless of their political viewpoint. In addition, security fees for all events will be $0 unless students serve alcohol or handle money.
YAF spokesperson Spencer Brown said YAF was “thrilled” by the settlement results.
“YAF’s landmark victory for free expression – long squelched by Berkeley’s scheming administrators who weaponized flawed policies to target conservatives – shows that the battle for freedom undertaken by YAF on campuses nationwide is a necessary one,” Brown said.
YAF sued U.C. Berkeley in April 2017 after the university “abruptly” canceled speaking appearances by high-profile conservatives David Horowitz and Ann Coulter, while allowing high-profile liberal speakers to appear. In January 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice publicly signaled support for the students with a Statement of Interest.
In their official legal complaint, the students argued that U.C. Berkeley had violated their constitutional rights under the First Amendment, the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause.
YAF pointed out that U.C. Berkeley had restricted conservative speakers on the basis of a “heckler’s veto,” allowing the “demands of a faceless, rabid, off-campus mob to dictate what speech is permitted” on campus, according to the complaint.
Additionally, university officials adopted an “unwritten and unpublished policy” that allowed them to arbitrarily restrict any campus event involving “high-profile speakers” – a vague, undefined term that made it easy to discriminate against conservatives.
In addition, the university had discriminated against conservative students and speakers by imposing arbitrary curfews and venue restrictions. For example, U.C. Berkeley said Horowitz would have to speak before 3 p.m., when most students are in class, and that the event would have to take place in a building located more than a mile from the center of campus.
Earlier this year, U.C. Berkeley also tried to block conservative speaker and Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Wire Ben Shapiro. In August, the university forced YAF to pay a $15,738 “security charge” to host Shapiro.