CINCINNATI (AP) — A federal judge has set a trial date in 2019 for a lawsuit over an Ohio college’s demand for a security fee from organizers of white nationalist Richard Spencer’s campus tour.
U.S. District Judge Susan J. Dlott scheduled a series of preliminary pretrial deadlines in her order Thursday leading to a March 18 jury trial, which would be more than a year after Spencer had planned to speak on the University of Cincinnati campus. The school, last October, agreed to let Spencer speak, and his tour organizers set a March 14 date, which is during the students’ spring break.
But the lawsuit was filed in January over UC’s security fee demand of nearly $11,000 that Spencer’s attorney at the time called discriminatory and unconstitutional. The school later said that amount was a “mere fraction” of its expected costs.
James Kolenich, a Cincinnati area attorney who recently took over the case, said there had been settlement discussions with the university. The school didn’t immediately comment Friday.
Spencer calls his views “alt-right” as he advocates a white “ethno-state” and espouses anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant beliefs. UC’s board of trustees publicly condemned hate last October while citing the fundamental right to free speech at a public university.
He spoke Monday at Michigan State University, where protesters far outnumbered his audience during that school’s spring break.
Spencer’s side this week dropped a federal lawsuit against Ohio State University over its refusal to book him. The school said Spencer’s appearance posed a “substantial risk” to public safety and of disruption.
Spencer’s lead tour organizer didn’t respond to a request for an explanation of the decision to drop the OSU lawsuit.
Ohio State pointed to deadly violence in the Charlottesville, Virginia, rally last August in which Spencer was a scheduled speaker, and his raucous October appearance at the University of Florida, where authorities estimated security costs at $600,000.
He had also wanted to speak at Kent State University in May, but that Ohio school said he couldn’t be accommodated during the busy time at the end of the school year.
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