Campus Reform | ADF and YAF conduct oral arguments in federal court after Ben Shapiro censored at University of Minnesota

ADF and YAF conduct oral arguments in federal court after Ben Shapiro censored at University of Minnesota

Conservative organizations argued their case against the University of Minnesota for censoring commentator Ben Shapiro in 2018.

The groups’ lawsuit says that “the cornerstone of higher education is the ability of students to participate in the ‘marketplace of ideas’ on campus.”

Lawyers for several conservative groups appeared before federal judges to argue their suit against the University of Minnesota for censoring commentator Ben Shapiro.

As Campus Reform reported in 2018, administrators employed the school’s “Large Scale Events Policy” to move a Young America’s Foundation and Students for a Conservative Voice event featuring Shapiro to a remote location with limited capacity. Alliance Defending Freedom filed suit on behalf of Shapiro and the two student organizations.

[RELATED: Students sue UMN for banishing Ben Shapiro to St. Paul]

As an ADF statement from 2018 explains, students “requested use of Willey Hall, a 1,056-person facility located on the Minneapolis campus near public transportation.” Despite the facility’s availability when requested, “university officials gave the student group the run-around, arbitrarily capped the number of attendees to 500 persons, and banished the event to UMN’s St. Paul campus.”

“The cornerstone of higher education is the ability of students to participate in the ‘marketplace of ideas’ on campus,” reads the lawsuit. “That marketplace depends on free and vigorous debate between students and the ability to offer diverse and competing views on current and age-old topics.”

In September 2020, YAF and other conservative groups expressed disappointment after a federal judge appointed by President Obama ruled in favor of the University of Minnesota.

[RELATED: Obama-appointed judge sides with UMN in Ben Shapiro free speech lawsuit]

On May 11, the suit was argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit.

“University of Minnesota officials attempted to stifle the free speech of conservative students on campus, solely in fear of how liberal students might react to hearing a new perspective,” remarked YAF President and former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in a press release. “Public university administrators don’t get to pick and choose which viewpoints are welcome on campus, and should never bend a knee to the mob.”

ADF legal counsel Jack Warner told Campus Reform that “the University of Minnesota clearly violated the rights of conservative students who wanted to encourage viewpoint diversity by hosting Ben Shapiro on campus.”

“When university officials make every effort to ensure that high-profile speakers with liberal views get the biggest venue with the best security, they cannot refuse to do the same for speakers with conservative viewpoints — just because they disagree with the message,” he explained. “That discrimination is unconstitutional and we trust that the appellate court will hold the university accountable for stifling the students’ speech.”

Campus Reform reached out to YAF for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

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