I don’t for a moment believe that conservative speakers will have an easy time of it at UC Berkeley, no matter what terms have been agreed to, but the YAF settlement appears to shut down some of the administrative tactics that were used to marginalize conservative speakers, and sets an important precedent for schools around the country.
It’s also sweet to see Janet Napolitano having to back down on free speech for conservative speakers.
Following more than a year of hard-fought litigation in the hostile Ninth Circuit, Young America’s Foundation secured victory for free speech against the University of California, Berkeley. Through YAF’s lawsuit and subsequent settlement agreement executed over the weekend, UC Berkeley agreed to the following terms set by Young America’s Foundation:
1) Pay Young America’s Foundation $70,000.
2) Rescind the unconstitutional “high-profile speaker policy.”
3) Rescind the viewpoint-discriminatory security fee policy.
4) Abolish its heckler’s veto—protestors will no longer be able to shut down conservative expression.
The security fee was a particularly outrageous gimmick for silencing conservative speakers.
No longer can UC Berkeley place a 3:00 p.m. curfew on conservative speech. No longer can UC Berkeley ban advertisements for Young America’s Foundation-sponsored campus lectures. And no longer can UC Berkeley relegate conservative speakers to remote or inconvenient lecture halls on campus while giving leftist speakers access to preferred locations.
Further, 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. YAF and UC Berkeley agreed to a fee schedule that treats all students equally. Unless students are handling money or serving alcohol at an event, the security fee will be zero.
That’s the same heckler’s veto I wrote about earlier, which allows leftist protests, with administrative collusion, to shut down conservative events.