MINNEAPOLIS – The University of Minnesota (UMN) has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against the university that contends top-level administrators actively engaged in “viewpoint-based censorship” of conservative students.
Earlier this year, UMN came under fire for refusing to provide a lecture hall on the main campus for an event sponsored by Young America’s Foundation featuring conservative commentator Ben Shapiro. Internal emails later revealed top-level UMN administrators actively censored the event featuring Shapiro. The emails, YAF says, proves the school’s speech suppression policy “permits administrators to wield unbridled discretion to suppress student speech that administrators dislike.”
The First Amendment lawsuit–filed by YAF, Shapiro, and the student group Students for a Conservative Voice (SCV)–targets top-level UMN officials who played an active role in censoring conservative viewpoints by limiting the venue and size for the Shapiro lecture.
“The disparate treatment of conservatives versus prominent leftists proves the ideological censorship carried out by the University of Minnesota,” YAF spokesperson Spencer Brown told Alpha News. “While Ben Shapiro was sequestered to a smaller venue in an unfavorable location far from the main campus area, prominent liberals such as now-disgraced Senator Al Franken and Supreme Court justices were allowed to speak in many of the venues Shapiro was barred from.”
Now the university is pushing back, claiming that the venue was chosen for security reasons and was not a violation of the First Amendment.
“The Constitution does not guarantee a right to host an event in a particular venue,” the motion states.
The motion asserts that campus buildings fall under a blanket of limited public forums in which viewpoint-neutral speech restrictions can be imposed. The university claims to have worked with SCV to best accommodate the event by adding extra seating to the venue and livestreaming the speech. However, the actions, Brown says, do not excuse the fact that liberal speakers were treated differently.
“The University of Minnesota can file as many motions as they want, but it doesn’t change the fact that the U of M treated Ben Shapiro—and the conservative students working to bring intellectual diversity to their campus—differently than the scores of liberals who’ve been granted favorable venues,” Brown said.
“UC Berkeley lost in court on its motion to dismiss YAF’s First Amendment lawsuit against the school, and we believe the University of Minnesota will lose on that argument as well,” Brown added.