Richard Spencer gives University one week ultimatum on request to speak

Friday, November 17, 2017 - 5:35pm

In an attempt to force the University of Michigan's hand in the midst of its deliberations on whether to accept white supremacist Richard Spencer's unsolicited request to speak at the University, Spencer's lawyer is threatening a to file a lawsuit against the University if a decision regarding the request is not made by Friday, November 24 at 5:00 p.m, according to the Detroit Free Press. 

Kyle Bristow, a lawyer representing Georgia State University student Cameron Padgett, who organizes Spencer's speeches, made the demand in a letter to University president Mark Schlissel sent on Friday.

"I have been following with interest recently published newspaper articles about the University of Michigan’s response to Padgett’s simple request—which was made on October 27, 2017— and I am disgusted and dismayed that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution is being flippantly disregarded by you and your colleagues because of the political viewpoint of the speakers who would attend the proposed event and the heckler’s veto which is being utilized by left-wing individuals who are detractors of Padgett and Spencer," Bristow wrote. "Violations of our people’s sacred right to free speech will not whatsoever be tolerated by me. I will use any and all resources as my disposal to see this matter through to a just and equitable conclusion."

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald told the Free Press the University still has not made a decision regarding Spencer's request.

Spencer has also made requests to speak on multiple other college campuses, to mixed responses. Citing security concerns soon after the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, VA, in which a woman was killed by a participant in the rally, Michigan State University denied Spencer's request and was met with a lawsuit, in which a judge recently ordered the parties to mediation. After initially denying Spencer's request, the University of Florida reversed its decision at the threat of a lawsuit, spending $600,000 on security for the resulting event. Ohio State University also turned Spencer down, and is now being sued by Spencer.

Legal experts at the University have expressed varying opinions on whether the University would be acting within the bounds of the Constitution in denying Spencer, noting the conflicting doctrines of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment, as well as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.