In a filing that can only be described as bizarre, the University of Minnesota claims Ben Shapiro is not entitled to the same First Amendment freedoms as those serving in the federal government. This response from the defendants in the free speech lawsuit filed against the University of Minnesota by Young America’s Foundation shows a troubling lack of appreciation for—or understanding of—the First Amendment.
“Plaintiffs [Young America’s Foundation, Ben Shapiro, Students for a Conservative Voice] allege that Defendants [Eric W. Kaler, Michael Berthelsen, Matthew A. Clark, Troy Buhta, Erik Dussault] treated the Shapiro lecture differently from events involving Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and Vice President Walter Mondale…”
“However, while Defendant[sic] Shapiro may be ‘a resident of North Hollywood, California, . . . an American political commentator, nationally syndicated columnist, author, radio talk show host, and attorney’… he is not a member of a branch of the federal government, like a Supreme Court Justice, a Senator, or a former Vice President. Plaintiffs, therefore, were not similarly situated to the organizers of these other events.”
So according to the University of Minnesota, certain individuals, namely those serving in the federal government, are entitled to more rights than others. Not only does this fly in the face of the way our founders designed our system of government, it proposes a dangerous precedent.
Consider if now-disgraced Senator Al Franken had been invited to speak before he resigned in shame. Under the standard they cite in their motion to dismiss, the University of Minnesota would have allowed him to enjoy more constitutionally-guaranteed rights than those they granted Ben Shapiro. A ridiculous assertion to be sure, but given the U of M’s treatment of conservative students in recent memory, it’s unfortunately unsurprising.
After relegating Ben Shapiro’s lecture to the “cow campus” after denying him a room on the main campus while rolling out the red carpet for leftist speakers, the U of M claims Shapiro and these leftists aren’t “similarly situated” in order to justify their discrimination against Shapiro.
In the run-up to Ben Shapiro’s breakthrough campus lecture at the U of M, part of YAF’s Fred Allen Lecture Series, Young America’s Foundation repeatedly cautioned the school that their actions smacked of ideological censorship and anti-conservative bias. The University of Minnesota predictably denied these allegations and launched into the typical doublespeak perpetrated by campus leftists. After receiving 1700 pages of internal emails between administrators through a public records request, Young America’s Foundation was able to prove our worst fears were in fact true: University of Minnesota administrators were colluding to arbitrarily limit attendance and move Shapiro’s lecture to a remote area of campus due to his viewpoint and the community’s potential reaction to it.
“This motion to dismiss is a standard practice that should not be read into,” noted Young America’s Foundation Spokesman Spencer Brown. “The University of Minnesota can file as many motions as they want, but it doesn’t change the fact that administrators colluded to limit the attendance at and scope of conservative students’ YAF lecture with Ben Shapiro. UC Berkeley lost its motion to dismiss in YAF v. Napolitano, and we believe the University of Minnesota will lose on their motion to dismiss too.”