University of California Wins Favorable Ruling in Free Speech Case

Munger, Tolles & Olson attorneys Bryan H. Heckenlively, Jeslyn A. Everitt, and Elizabeth A. Kim represented the University of California in obtaining the dismissal, with leave to amend, of a First Amendment lawsuit filed by conservative youth organizations alleging unlawful discrimination against conservative speech at the University of California-Berkeley.

Young America’s Foundation and the Berkeley College Republicans sued the university for placing certain regulations on proposed appearances by conservative commentators Ann Coulter, David Horowitz, and Ben Shapiro and introducing guidelines for on-campus speeches that allegedly disfavored conservative speakers. The groups alleged that the university “deprived [them] of their constitutional rights to free speech, due process, and equal protection.” The university has argued that the regulations and policies are neutral, and that they are necessary for the safety and security of the speakers and the campus community.

On Sept. 29, 2017, Judge Maxine Chesney of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted the university’s motion to dismiss, finding that the groups’ request for injunctive and declaratory relief was moot in part after the university implemented a new events policy over the summer, and that their claim otherwise failed because they had not alleged discrimination against conservative viewpoints. Judge Chesney will allow the groups to amend their complaint.