First Amendment & Free Speech; Equal Protection; Political Activity on Campus; Constitutional Issues; Campus Police, Safety & Crisis Management
Kushner v. Buhta, et al. (D. Minn. April 18, 2018)
Memorandum Opinion and Order granting Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff, a lawyer and alumnus of the University of Minnesota Law School (UMLS), brought section 1983 claims against Defendants for First Amendment interference and retaliation, excessive force, disparate treatment under the Equal Protection Clause, procedural and substantive due process violations, unlawful arrest, and conspiracy following his removal from an on-campus lecture and subsequent arrest and partial ban from the campus. In awarding judgment to the Defendants, the court concluded that 1) Plaintiff did not have a First Amendment right to record interactions with the police at a lecture in a UMLS classroom, which was a limited public forum, 2) the university police officers had probable cause to arrest Plaintiff for trespassing, and 3) Plaintiff, as an alumni visitor, did not have a constitutionally-protected interest in accessing the UMLS campus. Specific to Plaintiff’s First Amendment claim, the court found that UMLS’s “Rules of Decorum” for campus events—which prohibited unauthorized video-recording, demonstrations, and disruptive activity—were reasonable and viewpoint-neutral restrictions. The court further found that university police officers did not use unreasonable force in arresting the Plaintiff, nor did the evidence Plaintiff proffered suggest that their actions were motivated by intentional discrimination. Noting that the doctrine of official immunity applied to Plaintiff’s remaining state law claims, the court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction.