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Penn State Sued Over Blocking Richard Spencer Lecture

Cameron Padgett, who was organizing a campus speaking tour for Richard Spencer, is now suing Penn State officials after President Eric Barron blocked his request for white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak at Penn State, according to court documents. Specific defendants include Barron himself and Penn State’s Board of Trustees.

Padgett, who’s a 29-year-old senior at Georgia University, says his free speech rights under the first amendment were violated, and is seeking damages and for the court to force Penn State to allow him to rent a room on campus for Spencer’s lecture.

Jordan Rushie, Padgett’s lawyer, said a public university can’t ban a speaker based on the content of his speech. Barron announced via letter in August the university would deny any and all speaking requests from Richard Spencer, not because of the content of his lectures but because of the risk of violence.

Padgett says Barron and the Board of Trustees have no reason to think Spencer or those attending his lecture will engage in any criminal activity or encourage others to do so. His lawyer says public universities can’t ban speakers based on the content of their speech.

Court filings assert the National Policy Institute does not advocate criminal conduct, and Spencer has never been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of any violent crime.

“After critical assessment by campus police, in consultation with state and federal law enforcement officials, we have determined that Mr. Spencer is not welcome on our campus, as this event at this time presents a major security risk to students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus,” Barron said in August. “It is the likelihood of disruption and violence, not the content, however odious, that drives our decision.”

About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa is a junior public relations major and the managing editor of Onward State. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Send questions and comments via e-mail ([email protected]) and follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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