10 May Former US Attorney General Supports Lawsuit Against UCLA
University Accused of Stifling Free Speech, Sabotaging Student Political Discourse
Cambria, CA – May 10, 2016 — In a letter sent to Suzanne E. Rode, an attorney representing UCLA, Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General of the United States, chastised the university for stifling free speech and abusing their power as a taxpayer funded university by canceling a major political event at Pauley Pavilion, costing the non-profit organization Free and Equal, millions of dollars.
“What UCLA did was tantamount to bullying,” said Christina Tobin, Executive Director, Free and Equal. “Thousands have fought and died in our country for freedom and to have the administration of a public university, whose salaries are paid for by the taxpayers, stifle democracy and free speech of its own students and non-profit organizations is shocking.” Ramsey Clark sides with Free and Equal on the state of America’s elections, see the full interview here.
The text of Clark’s letter is below. Legal action is slated within the next twenty-one days.
37 West 12th Street
New York, NY 10011
March 9, 2016
Suzanne E. Rode
275 Battery Street, 23rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111
Attention: Suzanne E. Rode
Dear Ms. Rode:
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward Justice” –Martin Luther King, Montgomery, Alabama, March 1965
I write this in support of the right to justice, and a fair hearing on behalf of justice, for my friend Christina Tobin and her Free And Equal Elections organization.
In a dispute with UCLA in May of 2014, Free And Equal was nearly forced to cancel, and then to hurriedly relocate an event, the United We Stand Festival, after the university refused to allow that event to go place. The university states that it had reason to do so; Free And Equal asserts that there was an arbitrary and capricious decision by the university to stop the event. An inquiry needs to occur in a public court of law to determine who is right, and who is wrong.
Though this occurred nearly two years ago, the injury suffered by Free And Equal continues to this day. Apart from the nearly-irreparable damage to Free And Equal’s reputation, that action stifled the initiative being taken to involve the student populations of UCLA in particular and Los Angeles in general in the electoral political process–something that should have been supported, not discouraged. While there may be legitimate grounds to wonder whether the UCLA decision had more to do with the political views of some of the persons scheduled to participate and perform, or not, it is certainly clear that Free And Equal experienced a chilling and crippling effect on its mission to prepare high school and college-age youth to “fundamentally matter” in the electoral process.
As both a former U.S. Attorney General, and as a private citizen, I have been acquainted too well with the practice of selective enforcement of the law. Sometimes, subtleties arise, and an abuse is more implicit than explicit. In any case, sometime, somewhere, some group of people has to decide stop that sort of injustice. One would think that those that remember the “government abuse of power”, whether in the case of Watergate, or, in a different way in the 2003 Iraq “weapons of mass destruction” war, would welcome an independent, non-partisan mission for student involvement in independent electoral involvement, discourse, and action.
Though I am presently unable to directly participate in the legal defense, it is my view that there is certainly the basis in this case for a vigorous examination of the circumstances that led to the disappointing events of May 7-10 of 2014 involving UCLA and Free And Equal Elections. It is incumbent upon all of us to go out of our way to maximize the trust in the institutions of academic freedom at a time when impartial execution of the laws of civil society, and of the United States Constitution for all of our citizens, is in jeopardy.
Therefore it is my belief and my position that all those that can, should support the expeditious investigation and equitable resolution of this matter. The crises of our time, and the tradition of our laws, demand no less.
Former Attorney General of United States
November 28, 1966 – January 20, 1969
Cc: Free and Equal’s Attorney
5405 Morehouse Drive, Suite 110
San Diego, CA 92121
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