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Richard Spencer’s Group Sues Michigan State U

September 5, 2017

Michigan State University is being sued by a Georgia State University student in charge of organizing Richard Spencer’s speaking tour, The Detroit Free Press reported. The lawsuit -- alleging First Amendment violations -- comes after the white supremacist was denied rental space at MSU for an upcoming event.

Attorney Kyle Bristow, an MSU alum, filed the suit in federal court on behalf of the Georgia State student, Cameron Padgett. The lawsuit comes at a time when some experts have said that, because of events in Charlottesville, Va., public universities might have legitimate legal grounds to deny Spencer and his group, the National Policy Institute, space.

"After consultation with law enforcement officials, Michigan State University has decided to deny the National Policy Institute’s request to rent space on campus to accommodate a speaker," the university said in a statement explaining its reasoning for deciding to deny Spencer’s group’s request. "This decision was made due to significant concerns about public safety in the wake of the tragic violence in Charlottesville last weekend.”

Spencer announced a speaking tour on public colleges earlier this year. In a news release for a “White Lives Matter” rally at Texas A&M, the release specifically associated itself with a far-right protest in Charlottesville, which Spencer attended, and where one counter-protester was killed and others were injured.

“Today Charlottesville, Tomorrow Texas A&M,” the release read. Legal experts have previously told Inside Higher Ed that the explicit association with the violence at Charlottesville might be legal grounds for a public university to cancel an event. Texas A&M has since cancelled the event -- citing safety concerns -- which was slated for Sept. 11.

How long -- and how effectively -- public colleges will be able to deny Spencer events based on safety concerns remains to be seen.



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