DOJ: Berkeley College Republicans & YAF Have Our Support
After waiting months for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to follow through on his promise to take action against abuses of First and Fourteenth Amendment rights perpetrated by university administrations, Sessions delivered. On Thursday, the DOJ filed a Statement of Interest into the lawsuit brought against UC President Janet Napolitano by the Berkeley College Republicans and the Young America's Foundation (YAF), who are represented by RNC Committeewoman Harmeet Dhillon. The statement is clear: UC Berkeley violates First Amendment rights, and the College Republicans? case should not be dismissed.
Campus free speech issues haven?t been the focal point of a DOJ Statement of Interest for nearly five decades, but all of that is changing.
The DOJ's Statement of Interest asserts that the Berkeley College Republicans and YAF's amended complaint "adequately pleads that the University?s speech restrictions,? as outlined in the Major Event and High-Profile Speaker Policies, violate the First Amendment, and therefore, at least to that extent, the Court should deny Defendants? motion to dismiss.?
The DOJ maintains that the U.S. "has a significant interest in the vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms in institutions of higher learning":
As the Supreme Court has noted, "[t]eachers and students must always remain free to inquire, to study and to evaluate, to gain new maturity and understanding; otherwise our civilization will stagnate and die.?"Sweezy v. New Hampshire, 354 U.S. 234, 250 (1957). In recent years, however, many institutions of higher education have failed to answer this call, and free speech has come under attack on campuses across the country. Such failure is of grave concern because freedom of expression is "vital" on campuses. Shelton v. Tucker, 364 U.S. 479, 487 (1960). Indeed, "our history says that it is this sort of hazardous freedom?this kind of openness?that is the basis of our national strength and of the independence and vigor of Americans who grow up and live in this relatively permissive, often disputatious, society." Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Cmty. Sch. Dist., 393 U.S. 503, 508?509 (1969).
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