Attorneys representing self-described “alt-right” ideologue Richard Spencer have dropped their lawsuit against the University of Cincinnati, suspending plans for Spencer to speak on campus.
UC President Neville Pinto announced the lawsuit’s dismissal in an email to the student body, saying “there are currently no plans for Spencer to speak at UC.”
Requests for Spencer’s appearance at UC first arose in September 2017 after Georgia State University graduate student Cameron Padgett asked the university to allow Spencer to speak on campus. Spencer was not invited by any UC students, faculty members or campus organizations.
The university granted Padgett’s request in October, with Pinto citing First Amendment rights as a deciding factor.
“As a state institution, we must adhere to the foundational rights embedded in the First Amendment,” Pinto wrote. “That includes protecting speech of all types at all times—even, perhaps especially, words that are blatantly hateful or offensive. After all, we cannot silence those with whom we disagree without opening the doors to our own voices being silenced by those who disagree with us.”
In February, the university proposed a venue — Zimmer Hall — as well as a March 14 speaking date for Spencer’s expected arrival. Faced with security and rental fees totaling nearly $11,000, Spencer’s legal team sued the university.
“The tentative March 14, 2018, date for [Spencer] to speak at the University of Cincinnati has been derailed,” Padgett’s former attorney Kyle Bristow said in a statement on Twitter, calling the quoted fees an “unconstitutional speech tax.”
“[The] proposal was contingent on the conditions that [Spencer] sign the university’s standard rental agreement and pay a security and rental fee,” Pinto wrote. “His representatives instead refused to comply with those requirements and filed a lawsuit against UC. The university held firm in its position and chose to defend against the suit in court.”