Students from the University of California, Berkeley sued the university on Monday for canceling a scheduled speaking event featuring Ann Coulter, saying it was discriminating against conservative speakers and violating students’ rights to free speech.
According to the Associated Press, a legal team led by Harmeet Dhillon from San Francisco filed a lawsuit against the university on behalf of the Berkeley College Republicans.
“This case arises from efforts by one of California’s leading public universities, UC Berkeley — once known as the ‘birthplace of the Free Speech Movement’ — to restrict and stifle the speech of conservative students whose voices fall beyond the campus political orthodoxy,” the lawsuit obtained by the AP says.
The lawsuit comes after the university canceled Coulter’s appearance last week on the grounds that the officials and campus police determined they couldn’t guarantee Coulter’s safety, as well as the safety of audience members or protesters.
The lawsuit says Berkeley College Republicans should be allowed to “bring speakers of its choosing to speak on campus,” according to The New York Times.
It also says the group and the Young America’s Foundation are entitled to unspecified “monetary damages arising from the unconstitutional actions” of the university’s administrators.
A university spokesman spoke to the Times, saying it was an issue of security.
“Ann Coulter is welcome on this campus but at a time when we can provide a venue that law enforcement professionals believe to be protectable,” Dan Mogulof, a spokesman for the university, said.
Coulter tweeted that she would attend the speaking engagement anyway, writing a series of tweets that proclaimed the university’s reason for canceling as “fake news.”
The event caused concerns of violence at the university, after rioters smashed windows, set fires and shut down an appearance by former Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos in February.
Coulter told The Hollywood Reporter, “Yes, it was officially banned. But they can’t stop me. I’m an American. I have constitutional rights.”