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ADF to 8th Circuit: All viewpoints should be treated equally on campus

ADF attorneys available to media following oral arguments Tuesday
Published On: 5/10/2021

Related Case: Young America's Foundation v. Kaler

WHO: Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys

WHAT: Available for media interviews following 8th Circuit oral arguments in Young America’s Foundation v. Kaler

WHEN: Immediately following multiple-case hearing, which begins at 9 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 11; four unrelated cases precede this case

WHERE: To schedule an interview, contact ADF Media Relations Specialist Ellie Wittman at (202) 503-7984; information on listening to the oral arguments is available on the court’s website

ST. LOUIS – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing a student group, a national nonprofit, and conservative speaker and author Ben Shapiro will be available for media interviews Tuesday following oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in Young America’s Foundation v. Kaler, a lawsuit challenging the University of Minnesota’s use of its “Large Scale Events Policy” that was used to suppress and censor Shapiro’s 2018 appearance on campus.

On behalf of their clients, ADF attorneys filed a lawsuit in July 2018 challenging this application of the policy, which university officials unconstitutionally used to restrict, relocate, and downsize an academic lecture delivered by Shapiro and hosted by Young America’s Foundation and student group Students for a Conservative Voice. The university justified its discrimination because, as one official said, Shapiro’s speech would be “controversial.”

“University officials don’t have the authority to suppress a particular viewpoint on campus simply because they anticipate some students who disagree with it may not respond well,” said ADF Legal Counsel Jake Warner. “Labeling conservative speech as ‘controversial’ and then stifling it on campus prevents students from hearing different viewpoints. Public universities should be encouraging robust and diverse debate, not downsizing and censoring events that help accomplish this primary purpose of education.”

SCV, a recognized student organization at UMN, invited Shapiro to speak at a campus lecture in 2018 because the group believed his viewpoints were underrepresented and treated unfairly by faculty and administrators at the university. At SCV’s request, YAF agreed to provide assistance and financial support. SCV students requested use of Willey Hall, a 1,056-person facility located on the Minneapolis campus near public transportation. However, despite the facility’s availability when requested, university officials gave the student group the run-around, arbitrarily capped the number of attendees at 500 persons, and banished the event to UMN’s St. Paul campus, depriving hundreds of students the opportunity to attend the Shapiro lecture and participate in a dialogue on matters of public concern.

“Today’s college students are our future legislators, judges, and voters. That’s why it’s so important that public colleges model the First Amendment values they’re supposed to be teaching students,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “The University of Minnesota has allowed far-left speakers, including U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, to speak in the same hall it refused to Mr. Shapiro. Universities that pick and choose which voices can be heard on campus violate the First Amendment.”

“Dialogue is pivotal to a student’s education. That’s why Young America’s Foundation supports the free and open exchange of ideas,”  said YAF spokesperson Kara Zupkus. “Sadly, the University of Minnesota has deprived its student body of an intellectually diverse learning environment. YAF remains committed to the First Amendment and holding administrators accountable for their unconstitutional censorship of conservative students at the University of Minnesota and across the nation.”

Founded by William F. Buckley Jr. in the 1960s, Young America’s Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate the public on the ideas of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise, traditional values, and leadership.

  • Pronunciation guide: Langhofer (LANG’-hoff-ur)

The ADF Center for Academic Freedom is dedicated to ensuring freedom of speech and association for students and faculty so that everyone can freely participate in the marketplace of ideas without fear of government censorship.

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