A conservative nonprofit filed a lawsuit Monday against the University of California, Berkeley after the school denied a pro-liberty student group official status.
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) sued UC Berkeley after the school kept Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), which has 900 college chapters, from obtaining a registered student organization status, according to a press release obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“It is absurd to think that other Berkeley groups are lighting the campus on fire and throwing rocks through windows, but YAL’s efforts to peaceably promote the message of liberty are being shunned by university administrators,” said YAL President Cliff Malone. “This incident is exactly why Young Americans for Liberty launched the national Fight for Free Speech campaign. All students, regardless of ideology, should be guaranteed their First Amendment right to Free Speech.”
Without a registered student organization, YAL members cannot invite speakers, reserve rooms, or use funds from their tuition to cover organizational costs.
“Public universities are supposed to be a ‘marketplace of ideas’ for students, but that can’t happen when administrators are allowed to pick and choose which student organizations will be recognized based on the students’ views,” said Caleb Dalton, a legal counsel for ADF. “By leaving decisions on whether a student group is ‘too similar’ to another club in the hands of a university official who isn’t required to follow any viewpoint-neutral standards, UC Berkeley has allowed for unconstitutional discrimination.”
“We have strong firm policies that would preclude any decision of this sort being made based on the perspectives of the student organization,” Dan Mogulof, spokesman for UC Berkeley, told TheDCNF. “No student organization ever has been or ever will be denied RSO status because of what they believe in and anybody who did something like that would not be able to be employed by this university.”
Mogulof asserted that YAL sent the litigation to media before sending it to the university.
“University policies do seek to ensure that there is not more than one group with the exact same focus or charter, given that there are approximately 1000 student organizations on the Berkeley campus,” said the spokesman, alleging that YAL’s application had closely resembled an existing group on campus. “However, they are still able to register and be recognized. All they need to do is confer with the Libertarian organization and decide if they want to combine or remain separate. In short, the process is not yet complete.”
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