Ben Shapiro loses free speech lawsuit against UMN over venue change

A U.S. district judge ruled that the University had legitimate safety concerns when it moved the venue of Shapiro's July 2018 campus speech to St. Paul.

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Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro speaks in the Northstar Ballroom of the St. Paul Student Center on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. The speech drew a crowd of dozens of protestors in opposition to Shapiro's presence on campus. 

Farrah Mina

A judge determined Friday that University of Minnesota officials were driven by safety concerns in conservative speaker Ben Shapiro’s freedom of speech lawsuit, according to the Pioneer Press

Shapiro and the groups that sponsored his campus visit – Young America’s Foundation and Students for a Conservative Voice – filed a lawsuit in July 2018, alleging that the University held the event on a smaller venue on the St. Paul campus instead of a larger venue on the Minneapolis campus due to political bias. 

“As a result of the forced relocation to the [North Star] Ballroom, many students were prevented from attending and participating in the speaking event, and Shapiro was forced to speak to less than half the number of students that desired to attend,” read the lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson ruled the University had legitimate safety concerns after Shapiro events at other universities inspired hundreds of people to protest, the Pioneer Press reported.

“Consistent with the law that governs ‘limited public forums,’ University officials put reasonable restrictions in place to insure the event was secure,” Nelson wrote.