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The New Guard

YAF Announces Legal Action Against UCLA for First Amendment Violations

By

Nick Baker

May 21, 2024

Young America’s Foundation is taking legal action against the University of California, Los Angeles, following the institution’s blatant violation of students’ First Amendment rights. Last week, UCLA forced the last-minute cancellation of a planned event featuring Robert Spencer, founder of Jihad Watch. 

The pro-Israel event, which was organized by the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter, would have provided a voice of reason amidst the chaos of the pro-Hamas encampments and protests–but apparently, reason and common sense are not allowed at UCLA.

Despite previously granting the event approval, UCLA abruptly reversed its decision on the day of the event, blocking YAF staff out of the reserved venue and citing arbitrary security concerns. This action followed weeks of inconsistent and obstructive behavior by the university, which included initially refusing the event, offering insufficient time to promote it, and ultimately shutting it down on the day-of.

James Kerwin, senior attorney at Mountain States Legal Foundation, remarked in a letter to the administration, “UCLA’s actions represent a gross violation of the First Amendment. The university’s conduct handed an unconstitutional ‘heckler’s veto’ to anti-Israel activists and engaged in blatant viewpoint discrimination against pro-Israel messages.”

The letter reminds administrators of their legal obligations to preserve evidence, noting that YAF is working to prepare the lawsuit and intends to file very soon.

YAF’s forthcoming lawsuit aims to hold UCLA and its administrators accountable for their actions, seeking injunctive and declaratory relief, as well as damages. 

Kerwin added, “We warned UCLA that it would be held to account if it did not respect YAF’s constitutional rights. We are deeply disappointed that UCLA did not heed this warning. YAF is committed to vindicating its rights and ensuring that such violations do not occur in the future.”

When UCLA’s sister school, UC-Berkeley, used similar tactics to prevent a successful Ben Shapiro lecture in 2017, Berkeley had to pay a $70,000 settlement and rescind its unconstitutional policies.

UCLA administrators were well aware of the Berkeley case, so it’s a bit surprising that they handled this situation so recklessly.

When YAF reminded administrator Pamela Lewis of the Berkeley situation early on in the event planning process, she said, “Yeah, we didn’t appreciate that.”

“We will win our lawsuit against UCLA, just like we won the case UC-Berkeley,” YAF President Governor Scott Walker said during a recent NewsMax interview about the situation. “But the fact of the matter is we shouldn’t have to go to court. Colleges should be places where free expression, where free speech is embraced and revered–and yet it’s most under attack.”

YAF is dedicated to standing up for our students and will continue to fight against any attempts to suppress their constitutional rights. Further updates on this case will be provided as the legal process unfolds.

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