The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed a lawsuit this week that claimed UC Berkeley had interfered with the speech and religious rights of Jewish students. The suit, Felber v. Yudof, was brought by one present and one former student and asserted that UC Berkeley failed to prevent anti-Israel demonstrations on campus.
The ruling, by U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg, recognized UC Berkeley’s obligation to respect free-speech rights of those on both sides of the debate and cited the university’s ongoing efforts to bring the community together. The court stated that “the administration has engaged in an ongoing dialogue with the opposing parties in an attempt to ensure that the rights of all persons are respected, and to minimize the potential for violence and unsafe conditions.”
The court ruling also permitted plaintiffs to re-allege one of their dismissed claims, but stated that it was “far from clear” that they would be able to allege sufficient facts to avoid another dismissal.
“We are pleased with this decision,” said Christopher Patti, chief campus counsel for UC Berkeley. “The court has reaffirmed the fact that the university has been working hard to resolve conflicts between campus groups with opposing points of view.”
“UC Berkeley is committed to maintaining an inclusive and respectful campus environment that is safe and welcoming for everyone, without regard to religion, race, ethnicity or ideology,” said Claire Holmes, university spokesperson. “The university is also committed to enforcing the law and protecting the rights of free expression for every single member of the campus community, and we are pleased that the suit has recognized our efforts in this area.”