SUNY-Binghamton Sued After Activists Assault College Republicans And Block Speak By Economist

 

State_University_of_New_York_at_Binghamton_SealThe State University of New York-Binghamton is the defendant in a new lawsuit over its failure to protect College Republicans and a leading conservative economist in public events last year. The Binghamton University College Republicans and the Young America’s Foundation (YAF) is suing Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger, Vice President for Student Affairs Brian Rose; Chief of Binghamton University Police Department John Pelletier, the College Progressives, and Progressive Leaders of Tomorrow (PLOT) for the denial of First and Fourteenth Amendment violations.

We have been discussing how universities and colleges often show passivity as opposed to animosity in such controversies, failing to protect events or declining to punish faculty or students who shutdown classes or speeches.  Indeed, we previously discussed the shutting down of a speech by economist Arthur Laffer, an attack on free speech and academic freedom is now part of this lawsuit. The ability to litigate such questions however can be tricky and it will be interesting to see how the court treats the pre-trial motions to dismiss.

The attack on College Republicans was captured on videotape. Notably, you can see the intervention of campus police but there is no action to allow the Republican students to continue their advocacy after their tables are broken down and material scattered by activists.

The conservative YAF organization posted the videotape of the encounter that is now evidence in their complaint:

 

There is no indication of discipline against any of the students who stopped this exercise of free speech.  Instead, the university issued a statement that the students “acted in a manner that may have violated University rules.”  I would hope that the university believes that these students clearly did violate University rules after watching this video. I cannot imagine any basis for students claiming that they may tear down a table of other students with opposing political views — let alone verbally and physically threaten other students.
That lack of active support for free speech is the basis of the lawsuit. The plaintiffs hope to establish this pattern of passivity with the Laffer incident. The plaintiffs argue that the school was aware of the plans to disrupt the event and did nothing.

 

The lawsuit does raise an important question over the failure of universities to suspend or expel students (or fire faculty) who prevent others speaking or listening to opposing viewpoints.  The right to protest speeches by figures like Laffer is also protected. However, entering halls or classroom to shut down speakers is itself a denial of free speech and academic freedom.

This has been an issue of contention with some academics who believe that free speech includes the right to silence others.  Berkeley has been the focus of much concern over the use of a heckler’s veto on our campuses as violent protesters have succeeded in silencing speakers, even including a few speakers like an ACLU official.  Both students and some faculty have maintained the position that they have a right to silence those with whom they disagree and even student newspapers have declared opposing speech to be outside of the protections of free speech.  At another University of California campus, professors actually rallied around a professor who physically assaulted pro-life advocates and tore down their display.  In the meantime, academics and deans have said that there is no free speech protection for offensive or “disingenuous” speech.  CUNY Law Dean Mary Lu Bilek showed how far this trend has gone. When conservative law professor Josh Blackman was stopped from speaking about “the importance of free speech,”  Bilek insisted that disrupting the speech on free speech was free speech.

SUNY is a state school and subject to first amendment limitations government state action against free speech. These controversies however turn not on action but inaction; the failure to guarantee the exercise of free speech. There is no question that nonfeasance can be actionable. However, it raises more difficult questions since there is an element in discretion in how police respond to potentially explosive situations on campus. You can see police at both the College Republican and Laffer incidents.

The same difficulty arises in the failure of school’s to discipline students who are clearly identifiable in these videos. Indeed, they seem eager to be identified. It is doubtful that a similar act of other groups would have been addressed with such timidity by the school.

The complaint tries to convert this pattern into an actionable case.  Yet, it also raises countervailing concerns of the court interfering with the free speech rights of the liberal groups by asking for such relief as “a permanent injunction enjoining College Progressives and PLOT from unlawfully disrupting and silencing Plaintiffs’ speech and related activities.”

Notably, as the complaint below discusses, there was a consent decree in June 2017 in connection with such failure to protect free speech activities at SUNY-Buffalo. The court denied a motion to dismiss by SUNY-Buffalo defendants after finding that the “plaintiffs’ alleged loss of opportunities to express themselves in the way they preferred when the University defendants allowed counter-demonstrators to [block their expression] [was] sufficient to allege that the defendants took adverse actions against plaintiffs.” Decision and Order Denying Motion to Dismiss, Center for Bio-Ethical Reform v. Black, 1:13-cv-00581-RJA-HBS (W.D.N.Y. Feb. 10, 2017), ECF No. 23.

SUNY then decided to stipulate that it would “take all reasonable measures to enforce its policies against deliberately disrupting or preventing the freedom of any person to express his or her views.” SUNY-Binghamton committed to follow the same agreement.  Stipulation of Settlement and Discontinuance Pursuant to Rule 41(A), Center for Bio-Ethical Reform v. Black, 1:13-cv-00581-RJA-HBS (W.D.N.Y. June 2, 2017), ECF No. 30.

However, the Plaintiffs now argue that the school is engaging in passive encouragement of the heckler’s veto and refusing to protect conservative students, which the Plaintiffs refer collectively as the “Speech Suppression Policy.”

The school however has objected that these groups contributed to problems by holding a public event with Laffer rather than a ticketed event to prevent hecklers.

One aspect of the Complaint that stood out to me was the move by the university after the incident with the table to suspend the College Republicans.  Putting aside the alleged lack of action against those who tore down the table, the university is accused of applying a biased policy of enforcement. The group was told that it was being “suspended . . . due to [their] violation with both University and Student Association policy [sic] in regards to tabling without proper approval on Thursday November 14th.”  The Plaintiffs allege that other groups have not been required to satisfy that police.  That could present an issue for discovery to show that other groups regularly had tables without permits.

Given the prior agreement on supporting free speech activities, there is a credible basis for at least part of this complaint to proceed to discovery. That could produce some uncomfortable moments for the university as the plaintiffs would then have open space to run on allegations of unequal application of permitting rules and prior knowledge of planned disruptions by activists.  The failure to take actions against students who block the exercise of free speech will also be a likely focus.

To be sure, these are not easy cases for courts. However, there has already been concern expressed by judges that universities are passively enabling groups to shutdown conservative voices on campuses while supporting or even amplifying liberal voices.  As we have discussed, there is a pattern across of the country of universities refusing to act to prevent faculty members and students from disrupting classesbarring events, stopping job fairs, and shouting down speakers.

Such students claim the right to prevent other students from participating in classes or events — a similar complaint raised against the protests against James Comey at Howard University as well as schools like William & Mary.  Likewise, the Homeland Security Secretary was prevented from speaking at Georgetown. For years, I have written about the loss of free speech protections and why universities must take action in such disruptions of classrooms like an incident at Northwestern University where the university took no action against students barring an actual class. Later students stopped former Attorney General Jeff Sessions from speaking to the community.

This violates a core defining value of our academic institutions and such students should be suspended for such conduct.  There is a difference between voicing your views and preventing others from speaking, particularly inside of a classroom. When you claim the right to prevent others from hearing opposing views or speakers, you are at odds with the academic mission of these universities.  When universities fail to take action, they are complicit in the misconduct.

Here is the complaint: YAF v. Stenger

141 thoughts on “SUNY-Binghamton Sued After Activists Assault College Republicans And Block Speak By Economist”

  1. With luck in their non constituionalist state they should be fined enough to put them out of business and at least some of the taxpayers money will go back to some of the taxpayers. Long past time to quit funding failed institutions.

  2. Is it just me or time and again is it mainly young white women, who have most to lose one might think in a societal collapse where we revert back to might is right on the streets, that are at the forefront of every violent mob of haters pushing for societal collapse where might is right? If it did collapse they would be back chained to the kitchen sinks with 10 kids at their heels before you could say Jack Robinson. Maybe that is not so secretly what they really crave because they aren’t adults capable of operating without this particular society we have at present, that much is obvious, and so crave for their real safe space of being a mother with a man looking after them where their idiotic ranting is kept behind their own front door where it belongs.

  3. Free Speech Stories Playing Now..

    Trump Shares Video Promoting Hydroxychloroquine. But Source Behind Video Is Highly Dubious

    Don Junior Gets Censored Posting Same Video

    The video Trump shared Monday night showed a collection of doctors speaking in favor of treating covid-19 patients with the antimalarial drug. The clip focused on the testimony of a woman named Stella Immanuel, who received a medical license in Texas in November, according to state records. Immanuel did not return a request for comment.

    Immanuel says she previously worked as a doctor in Nigeria and calls herself a “deliverance minister” who is “God’s battle ax and weapon of war.” She has given sermons attacking liberal values and promoting conspiracy theories including, in her words, “the gay agenda, secular humanism, Illuminati and the demonic new world order.” Another doctor shown in the video, a noted Trump supporter, called Immanuel a “warrior.”

    “You don’t need a mask,” Immanuel claimed in the video, contradicting the widely accepted medical advice that has been promoted even by the White House coronavirus task force and Trump himself. She repeatedly called studies questioning the safety and effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine “fake science.”

    “We don’t need to be locked down,” she continued, despite evidence that stay-at-home orders have helped curb the spread of the virus. “America, there is a cure for covid.”

    There is no known cure for the novel coronavirus or the disease it causes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. Multiple studies have disputed claims that antimalarial and antiviral drugs such as hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin can help treat or even prevent the coronavirus. Last month, the FDA revoked an emergency approval that allowed doctors to prescribe hydroxychloroquine to covid-19 patients even though the treatment was untested.

    Edited From: Twitter Penalizes Donald Trump Jr. For Posting Hydroxychloroquine Misinformation Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

    Today’s Washington Post

    1. And you wonder why no one trusts WaPo ?

      “Trump Shares Video Promoting Hydroxychloroquine. But Source Behind Video Is Highly Dubious”
      What does that even mean ?

      We know that HCQ has more than enough studies demonstrating effectiveness to be widely used.
      Does it work ? It appears that used early enough it has about a 20% change of significantly reducing the severity of the outcome.
      That is about the same as steriods, and half as good as remedsivir.

      No one should be forced to take it. no one should be required to.

      “Don Junior Gets Censored Posting Same Video”

      And why ? At this time there is alot of evidence – but no certainty that it is effective, and no evidence it is actually harmful.

      It meets the requirements of the hypocratic oath – first do no harm.

      “The video Trump shared Monday night showed a collection of doctors speaking in favor of treating covid-19 patients with the antimalarial drug. The clip focused on the testimony of a woman named Stella Immanuel, who received a medical license in Texas in November, according to state records. Immanuel did not return a request for comment.”
      So ?

      “Immanuel says she previously worked as a doctor in Nigeria and calls herself a “deliverance minister” who is “God’s battle ax and weapon of war.” She has given sermons attacking liberal values and promoting conspiracy theories including, in her words, “the gay agenda, secular humanism, Illuminati and the demonic new world order.” Another doctor shown in the video, a noted Trump supporter, called Immanuel a “warrior.””
      So ? Lots of lefties beleive in CAGW ? That does not mean they can not be good doctors.

      ““You don’t need a mask,” Immanuel claimed in the video, contradicting the widely accepted medical advice”
      False. I have no idea what the actual effectiveness of “masks” is.
      We know that in hospital settings with near perfect adherance to protocols, and the best PPE there is – almost every doctor and nurse will still get infected so long as they continue to treat infected patients. At best PPE buys time. That is all.

      Further we have in vitro testing of masks that indicates SOME effect, We have no in vivo testing at all.

      The odds are that like the really good PPE in hospital settings, masks just buy time – but far less than high end PPE in medical settings.

      Further depending on the protocols the user follows – there is every reason to beleive that masks could in many cases increase your odds rather than decrease them.

      If you want it there is lots of literature out there challenging masks. There is nothing at this point that conclusively establishes a benefit or the scale of any benefit.

      If you are going to fixate on Science – then do not politicize it.

      I wear a mask in crowded settings, I would recomend that to others. But I am not under the delusion this is anywhere near settled science.

      “that has been promoted even by the White House coronavirus task force and Trump himself.”
      So ? Both Faucci and the Surgeon general earlier said they were ineffective.

      “She repeatedly called studies questioning the safety and effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine “fake science.””
      They are. All the studies questioning HCQ have been withdrawn.
      The studies supporting it – while numerous are not conclusive,

      There are myriads of nations arround the world using it. There is ZERO evidence that outcomes in those nations are worse.
      There is pretty strong evidence that outcomes are slightly better.

      HCQ is OTC in most of the world. It is as safe as aspirin or Tylenol.

      ““We don’t need to be locked down,” she continued, despite evidence that stay-at-home orders have helped curb the spread of the virus. ”
      That is absolutely false. Stay at home orders slow the spread of the virus – no one has every claimed more.
      That is NOT the science.

      “”America, there is a cure for covid.””
      Here you are correct – that is false.
      There are a variety of treatments that SOMETIMES mitigate symptoms and reduce the probability of death.

      The best of those – remedsivir – is not that good. Certainly not a cure. But it is still an improvement.

      “There is no known cure for the novel coronavirus or the disease it causes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.”

      “Multiple studies have disputed claims that antimalarial and antiviral drugs such as hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin can help treat or even prevent the coronavirus.”
      That would be false. There were few such studies and they have all been withdrawn.

      The studies claiming HCQ in various combinations are effective are also weak – the benefit appears to be for only about 20% of cases.
      But most of us would take a 20% reduction in the odds of dying.

      “Last month, the FDA revoked an emergency approval that allowed doctors to prescribe hydroxychloroquine to covid-19 patients even though the treatment was untested.”

      Yes, shortly after the best HCQ results came out and the studies claiming HCQ was ineffective were withdrawn – then the FDA acted AGAINST THE ACTUAL SCIENCE.

      The FDA was an abysmally stupid idea from the start. Their sluggishness has harmed and killed millions over the years.

        1. “John, you’ll have to give me the Cliff Notes version of what you have written here.”

          I have to ? Why ?

          Why are you issuing commands ?

          I do not tell you what you have to do.
          If you think i have – cite that, and I will apologize.

          When you are wrong – I tell you that you are wrong. I tell you what you are wrong about and why.

          I have assumed that CTHD might be sincere in his moniker and I have told him what constitutes honest discusion.

          But I have never said that you or CTHD to anyone has to do anything.

          I have told you that it is immoral to use force without justification.
          You may not do so and expect to be moral.

          But I have not said you have to.

          You are free to do whatever you want.
          Some things you do will have consequences.

          If you lie – you will not be trusted.

          If you make false more accusations decent people will recognize you as immoral.

          YOU posted a long except form a Wapo article that was mostly complete crap.
          I dismembered it point by point.

          What did you expect ?

          I do not know with certainty the effectiveness of HCQ – no one does.
          I do know that there have been two studies that found problems with it.
          That one of those was not by a medical researcher or doctor and that those studies have been withdrawn.

          I know that the studies that show it is beneficial are far less than perfect double blind large controlled studies.
          But I know that the showed promising results – not as a cure but as a treatment that resulted in improved outcomes in about 20% of cases. That is not great, but it is as good as the steriod treatment that has been approved by the FDA.
          It is not as good as remedsivir – but even remedsivir – does nothing 50% of the time. Further it is very expensive and in short supply.

          That we are not heavily using HCQ is absolutely immoral. The mere possibility that a cheap readily available treatment might reduce mortality by 20% should result in HCQ being given to everyone infected.

          But you are offering as meaningful some rant by a reporter at Wapo ?

          Trump Jr. has been banned from Twitter for retweeting this video.
          Jake tapper a week ago tweeted a study that reported that HCQ was effective.

          So what is wrong with Trump Jr.’s tweet that was not wrong with Tapper’s ?

          Idiots on CNN are ranting that someone might take Don Jr. serious.

          We can only hope so.

          Why are you engaged in this kind of nonsense ?

          Why are you posting a WaPo article that is about as bad and ill informed as most of the left commentors here ?

          Why is some reporter at WaPo more credible that the actual doctor that she is attacking ?

    2. And yet if used within 5 days of the onset of symptoms with Zinc and an antibiotic you don’t go to hospital in the vast majority of cases and the WHO itself in the largest safety study of drugs ever undertaken said in only 2015 that Chloroquine based medications were the safest drugs ever tested with virtually no side effects in the millions of patients followed and not one death due to heart attack could be attributed to use of the drug. It is a truly evil person that pushes the lie that it doesn’t work when it clearly does if used early like every other anti-viral drug therapy must be. Chloroquine without the Zinc is like using a gun without bullets as has been said quite rightly.

  4. The Left is infamous for their attacks on those who disagree with them. Dissent is punished. Free speech is not tolerated, unless it’s their own.

    Honestly, this kind of behavior is incredibly off-putting.

    Bigotry against conservatives in general and Republicans specifically has become normalized.

    1. that means that free speech is an obsolete objective for us. we need instead to project the message with action.

      this is my current hypothesis at least. i am feeling it more strongly after watching the 2 months of protests gone by attract more support from all the freaks and geeks– while the silent majority remains silent.

      silent, and seemingly inactive.

      if there is a massive collapse in the election, Trump must not be the scapegoat. it is the loser leadership around him still clinging to their offices in the Republican party which will deserve our fierce ire for failing.

      you have to control your own crew first before you can project power. in this Trump has done poorly. he did not get rid of Sessions when he should have. If Barr had been at the helm of the AG early on then a lot of the situation would already be a very different look. Barr is coming into play late in the game however and one man can’t do it all.

      CIA for example, has had a slacker in charge, the ticket punching torture apologist and bureaucrat Gina Haskell. A likely John Brennan ally I think.
      She might as well be for not shutting his insurrectionist schemes down by whatever means necessary. She could have earned her keep, and she hasnt.

      1. Gurpreet Sohal split with Puja Klaire because she got up to hanky panky on the dentists chair, she made a right cuckold of Gurpreet Sohal of 28 Weeford Drive, Birmingham. Sanjeev took her is every position her chubby thighs would allow for, he even got his mate in on the action. Needless to say Gurpreet was insulted to a point he went on a sex spree of his own, paid for of course, possibly with the fake expense claims from his wild days at Accenture. One of these ho’s he paid for was Parjeet Hans…let’s just say her Hans have been everywhere, worse than Poojas, Parjeet likes it in both holes try it Guppy and watch her moan with pleasure it’ll remind her of the days she was my regular ho, ask her about Suki see if she remembers 🙂

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