Stopping Student Conference Would Violate Free Speech Rights, ACLU of Michigan Says

Affiliate: ACLU of Michigan
October 10, 2002 12:00 am

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DETROIT- Citing First Amendment guarantees of free speech, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan today filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the University of Michigan’s decision to allow a student organized conference in support of Palestine to convene on campus this weekend.

“”The lawsuit involved here strikes at the heart of freedom of speech,”” said Kary Moss, Executive Director of the ACLU of Michigan. “”We may not agree with what all people have to say, but we need to defend their right to say it.””

The case, Richard Dorfman v Mary Coleman, was filed yesterday to stop the Palestine Solidarity Movement conference from being held this weekend on the university campus. The two students who filed the lawsuit claim that conference organizers seek to promote terrorism and anti-Semitism. The lawsuit was filed in the Washtenaw County Court and has been assigned to Judge Melina Morris.

University officials released a statement earlier this week in defense of their decision to allow the conference to proceed, saying that “”it would be both unlawful, as well as a violation of the University’s policies on freedom of speech and expression,”” to cancel the event.

“”There is no doubt that the students involved in the conference have the right to hear the speakers,”” added Moss. “”Students who are offended by the conference’s messages also have a right to peacefully protest and express their opposition.””

The ACLU plans to provide legal observers for the rally planned in protest of the conference in an effort to ensure no civil rights are violated.

The ACLU brief is online at /node/34972

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