After more than a year of litigation, the University of California, Berkeley, has settled a lawsuit with the Young Americas Foundation and the UC Berkeley College Republicans.
Campus conservatives accused the university of bias in the process of bringing high-profile speakers to campus. The original lawsuit revolved around the cancellation of an event with Ann Coulter. An amended version of the lawsuit included road blocks initiated by the university for an event with Ben Shapiro.
The Department of Justice filed a statement of interest backing the campus conservatives. The crux of their argument revolved around two campus policies that they claim violate students’ First and 14th Amendment rights: an unspoken “High-Profile Speaker Policy” and an on-the-books “ Major Events Policy.”
“This Department of Justice will not stand by idly while public universities violate students’ constitutional rights,” Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand said at the time.
In the settlement, UC Berkeley agreed to the following terms set by YAF:
Pay YAF $70,000.
Rescind the unconstitutional “High-Profile Speaker Policy.”
Rescind the viewpoint-discriminatory security fee policy.
Abolish its heckler’s veto — protesters will no longer be able to shut down conservative expression.
Under these terms, UC Berkeley will no longer be allowed to place a 3 p.m. curfew on conservative events or relegate conservative speakers to remote or inconvenient lecture halls on campus while giving left-leaning speakers access to preferred parts of campus.
YAF and UC Berkeley also agreed to a “fee schedule” that treats all students, student groups, and speakers equally. Unless students are handling money or serving alcohol at an event, there will not be a need for security fees.
“The policy that allowed Berkeley administrators to charge conservative students $20,000 for security to host Ben Shapiro — an amount three times greater than the fee charged to leftist students to host liberal Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor — is gone,” says a press release from YAF.
“This settlement is a huge win for the Berkeley College Republicans and really all student groups on campus,” Matt Ronnau, President of the Berkeley College Republicans, told the Washington Examiner. “This is a huge win for the 1st Amendment, and I am proud of the work that the men and women of the Berkeley College Republicans have put in to achieve this victory.”
Not every conservative speaker faced the steadfast opposition Coulter and Shapiro faced. In October, I successfully spoke at UC Berkeley on the need for more free speech and event surprisingly went smoothly.