On Thursday afternoon, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) made public its support for Young America’s Foundation’s free speech litigation against the University of California, Berkeley with a Statement of Interest (SOI) filed in federal court.

This move signifies support from the highest levels of the US government for the critical work of Young America’s Foundation and the conservative students we help to boldly advance conservative principles across the country.

“The US Department of Justice rightly recognizes that there are serious problems at UC Berkeley, and this is a reminder from the DOJ to UC Berkeley that it still has a lot to learn about the First Amendment,” said YAF Spokesman Spencer Brown. “It’s incredible to see the United States government reinforcing in its SOI what YAF has said for months: Berkeley’s high-profile speaker policy and major events policy are ‘prior restraints on protected speech that invite viewpoint discrimination.'”

In a critical section of the Statement of Interest, the Department of Justice affirms YAF’s position on these policies, saying, “both Policies suffer from the same constitutional defect: they grant University administrators unbridled discretion to decide when, how, and against whom to apply the Policies.”

“Having pursued these core speech rights on behalf of our clients for nearly nine months against the University’s shifting positions and excuses, it is gratifying to see both the Department of Justice and General Counsel of the Department of Education agree with our position in court that strict scrutiny must apply to the University’s speech codes, which in turn constitute a prior restraint on fundamental rights guaranteed by the First Amendment,” noted Harmeet K. Dhillon, attorney for YAF and BCR in this key case for free speech on campus.

University administrators routinely violate the First Amendment freedoms of conservative students, and the situation that unfolded at UC Berkeley surrounding YAF’s Fred Allen Lecture Series event with Ben Shapiro is a prime example of this trend. Young America’s Foundation, as the lead plaintiff in YAF and BCR v. Napolitano et al., welcomes the Department of Justice’s interest.

“The Berkeley College Republicans are grateful to the DOJ for filing a Statement of Interest into the lawsuit of discriminatory practices in stifling the guaranteed constitutional right of free speech brought against UC Berkeley,” remarked Berkeley College Republicans President Bradley Devlin. “We are also grateful AG Sessions has called the success of the Ben Shapiro event hosted by YAF and BCR a ‘victory for free speech.'”

The statement was submitted by United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore, Civil Rights Division Senior Counsel Tara Helfman, and United States Department of Education Acting General Counsel Steven Menashi, along with Thomas E. Chandler and Vikram Swaruup of the DOE’s appellate section.


For further information or to cover this story contact YAF Spokesman Spencer Brown via email (sbrown@yaf.org) or phone (800-872-1776).

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