Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Viewpoint Discrimination

Teach the children quietly
For some day sons and daughters
Will rise up and fight while we stand still
--Mike & the Mechanics

Judge Nap discusses Cal Berkeley's recent cancellation of a speech to be given by Ann Coulter. Coulter had been invited to speak on-campus by a Republican student organization.

Because it is a state institution, Berkeley is obligated to respect the First Amendment. It cannot discriminate against viewpoints that fall beyond the campus political orthodoxy.

"She [Coulter] has the right to speak there because she has been lawfully invited by a group that has the right to invite her. That triggers an affirmative obligation on the part of the school to make sure that the people who want to listen to her can do so."

Berkeley cannot permit opponents to drown her out (known as the 'Heckler's Veto'). They cannot permit adversaries to scare her away. The school cannot stop her from speaking because it does not like her message.

Students groups in a public university have the right to bring whom they want to speak on campus. Campus administrators are obligated to provide a forum that permits students to listen to the speaker. Universities have to "bend over backwards to allow this to happen."

If violence ensues, and it is not commanded by the speaker, then the school is responsible. If a speech causes haters of a speech to interfere with the proceedings, it is not the speaker's fault that the haters are there. It is the university's fault for allowing the haters to interfere.

Despite the school's cancellation of the event, Coulter has indicated that she will speak to the group on-campus anyway later this week.

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