News & Politics

Lawyer for Berkeley Republicans: University Engaged in 'Clear Censorship'

Harmeet Dhillon, right, sits down to speak about a lawsuit filed against the University of California during a news conference Monday, April 24, 2017, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Berkeley College Republicans filed a lawsuit on Monday claiming that University of California at Berkeley violated students’ rights to free speech when it failed to provide a safe venue for conservative firebrand Ann Coulter’s speaking event.

Harmeet Dhillon, the San Francisco lawyer representing the group, told Fox Business on Thursday that the university’s actions were a case of “clear censorship.”

The free speech standards at Berkeley are that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran was able to go speak there without incident, yet the university is afraid of Ann Coulter. Dhillon pointed out that the former president of Mexico, Supreme Court justices, and many others have been allowed to speak at the university, but not Coulter.

“This is clear censorship and it does not stand under the First Amendment,” she said.

“In the case of Berkeley, as our complaint details, there was coordination between the city of Berkeley and its mayor, who is very, very liberal, and the Berkeley chancellor’s office and others in the university,” Dhillon explained. “We know California is very liberal and a lot of Democrat politicians have served on the [Board of] Regents there. There was coordination about this policy. There’s a special policy made for speakers that are — quote, unquote — controversial, and guess what? On the Berkeley campus, that’s 100% conservative speakers.”

She said that during the discovery process, they intend to find out all the details about how they came up with the policy and who was consulted. “Then we’re going to seek relief from the court to order Berkeley to stop discriminating against people who want to speak on their campus or students who want to invite speakers on the basis of their viewpoints,” she said.