Lawsuit Charges U of M Bias Against Conservative Ben Shapiro
Conservative speaker Ben Shapiro just might get the last word in against the University of Minnesota after all–in a federal courtroom. The U of M refused to let the popular young speaker appear on the main campus in February, citing public safety concerns in off-loading the event to a venue with half the capacity on the St. Paul campus.
American Experiment was among those warning that university administrators were teeing up a potentially lucrative First Amendment lawsuit at the expense of Minnesota taxpayers and free speech.
The University of Minnesota continues to go out of its way to marginalize conservatives on campus. Perhaps the Republican-run Minnesota Legislature will find a way to make the bloated ranks of U of M administrators pay during the 2018 legislative session just underway.
But a national foundation may beat them to it with a potential lawsuit over the school’s foolish decision to banish Ben Shapiro, one of the most popular conservative speakers in the country, to the farm campus in St. Paul.
Predictably the U caved to campus liberals, paving the way for a federal lawsuit that was filed the day before Independence Day. The legal action sparked another windfall of national and state media attention for Shapiro in the Star Tribune and other outlets.
The lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday by Shapiro and two conservative groups, claims that the U barred him from speaking at a 1,000-seat venue on the Minneapolis campus and restricted him to a “remote” location half its size because it feared protesters would try to disrupt the event.
“No university official has the authority to suppress viewpoints simply because of how someone might respond to it,” said Tyson Langhofer, an attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing Shapiro and the other plaintiffs. “Like all government officials, public university administrators have an obligation to respect free speech rights.”
One of the parties to the lawsuit, Young America’s Foundation, recently obtained internal emails between U of M administrators that purportedly reflect bias.
In another thread, University of Minnesota Provost Karen Hanson writes that “security isn’t the ONLY consideration on this scheduling,” which leads one to ask what the other considerations were, if not unconstitutional viewpoint discriminatory restrictions. Provost Hanson also contradicts her own police chief by saying “this event was never planned to be held in another venue, and it was not moved at all.”
In the court of public relations and public opinion, Shapiro has already won. The university’s ham-handed handling of the conservative orator’s appearance has ensured Shapiro’s message has reached more Minnesotans than could have ever heard him in person.