AUBURN, Ala. — After failing to prevent white nationalist Richard Spencer from speaking on its campus last month, Auburn University is now paying $29,000 in legal fees to end a lawsuit that successfully challenged their cancellation. The legal fees will be paid to Cameron Padgett of Georgia, who sued the University after it refused to allow Spencer to speak after he already booked campus space.
Spencer originally scheduled a talk at Auburn’s James E. Foy Hall on Tuesday, April 18, where he would discuss the Trump presidency, Syria, identity, and the Alt-Right. But that speech was cancelled by the University “based on legitimate concerns and credible evidence that it will jeopardize the safety of students, faculty, staff and visitors.” Spencer then said he would show up to campus with or without a room to speak in.
After the lawsuit was filed, Federal Judge W. Keith Watkins of Montgomery ordered Auburn to honor its original agreement with Spencer to speak at Foy Hall. AU complied with the order and said “It is now more important than ever that we respond in a way that is peaceful, respectful, and maintains civil discourse.”
In a twitter video, Spencer heralded the decision as a victory for free speech. “I did not think this was going to happen,” Spencer said. “I thought the chances of victory were slim, but we did it. This is a huge win.”
Spencer spoke to a crowd of several hundred at Auburn, while several hundred more protested his presence outside.
The Spencer episode is one of many nationally that have pitted the code of political correctness against the constitutionally enshrined value of free speech. Conservative commentator Ann Coulter’s invitation to the University of California, Berkeley sparked intense riots among liberal students who did not want her to step foot on campus. In Alabama, Former Breitbart Technology Editor Milo Yiannopoulos visited both Auburn and The University of Alabama last fall at the invitation of both schools’ College Republican groups, causing unrest amongst the schools’ liberal factions.