Munger, Tolles & Olson successfully defended the University of California against a lawsuit alleging that an anti-Semitic environment had been created by protests on the UC Berkeley campus against Israeli policies. The suit, which was filed by two Jewish students, claimed UC Berkeley turned a blind eye to alleged intimidation by anti-Israel protestors and thereby fostered a climate of anti-Semitism. U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg disagreed and dismissed the lawsuit on December 22, 2011. Judge Seeborg emphasized that “much of the alleged harassment, even if [it occurred], constituted protected political speech that UC Berkeley had no obligation to stop.”
Judge Seeborg also rejected the plaintiffs’ claim that UC Berkeley officials were deliberately indifferent to the threats that the plaintiffs allegedly faced. The judge highlighted that campus police have arrested disruptive protesters and that UC Berkeley’s administration “has engaged in an ongoing dialogue with the opposing parties in an attempt to ensure that the rights of all persons are respected, and to minimize the potential for violence.”
Christopher Patti, chief campus counsel at UC Berkeley, said the ruling “reaffirmed the fact that the university has been working hard to resolve conflicts between campus groups with opposing points of view.”
Munger Tolles attorneys Michelle Friedland, Bradley S. Phillips and Kathryn A. Eidmann represented UC in this matter.