The University of California, in an attempt to slyly censor a college news outlet it didn’t approve of, had to end up spending nearly one million dollars in a legal fight they were always destined to lose.
The university did not want to support The Koala anymore, and at the same time, also wanted to steer clear of infringing the First Amendment rights of the newspaper.
Instead of cutting down the $452.80 that was allocated for The Koala, the university ended up eliminating student newspapers altogether, as a nuclear option to try and suppress dissent. This naturally led to a lawsuit which ended up costing the university dearly.
Although the university fought hard to win the lawsuit and won the support of the federal court in the initial stages, The Koala ended up emerging victorious as the court has declared that the university was holding funds as a means of censorship.
It is worth noting that the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, ended up filing amici curiae asking the federal court to reconsider its stance on the issue.
The university kept fighting till the very end and tried persuading the court by proposing a panel hearing followed by asserting that The Koala is no longer a recognised organization, because of which it should not be considered in the lawsuit. That said, the court denied all what the university had to say, and ended up acknowledging the backhanded move made to suppress free speech.
The Koala ended up settling the case, and the university agreed to pay the outlet $12,000 and $150,000 more for covering the attorneys’ fees.
FIRE did some digging around and found out how much it cost the university to defend itself against the newspaper. Here’s how much University of California spent over attorney fees: 662,317.86
The university ended up shelling out a mini fortune of $824,317.86, all for censoring a single outlet by means of a “creative legal solution,” which is nothing else but censorship. Summing up the whole debacle, FIRE rightly wrote: “If speech ain’t free, it’ll cost the taxpayers and tuition-paying students a pretty penny.”