David Lane to sue University of Wyoming today over ban of controversial prof William Ayers
On Tuesday, we told you about attorney David Lane's threat to sue if the University of Wyoming didn't reverse its ban of Weather Underground co-founder William Ayers by noon the following day.
When asked if he would file paperwork the next day if the university refused to change course by the deadline, Lane remarked, "That would be nice."
And apparently it is. University officials haven't capitulated, so, Lane says, "This morning, we're filing in federal court in Wyoming."
Ayers had been asked to speak on March 29 by the university's Social Justice Research Center, but university president Tom Buchanan put the kibosh on his address. When the center didn't fight this edict -- displaying a lack of backbone, in Lane's view -- Meg Lanker, a student, stepped forward, only to be turned down by the university as well.
That's when Lane entered the story, sending a letter to the university threatening to sue if the situation wasn't resolved to Lanker's satisfaction by noon yesterday.
Did Lane hear from university officials?
"The day before, they said, 'We'll get back to you at some point in the future,'" he notes. After that, silence.
According to Lane, the suit will ask for "injunctive relief from the court and attorney fees. We will seek an order mandating that they allow Ayers to speak on campus, and if we prevail, the University of Wyoming will have to pay me my attorney fees.
"We would like him on campus possibly as early as April 28," Lane continues. "There's an event happening on campus that day, and he's been invited."
While this date won't appear in the lawsuit, Lane believes the Wyoming court won't allow the case to linger. "As a general rule, preliminary injunctions get speedy attention from the federal courts, and we're going to be pushing for a hearing very quickly," he says.
And he expects to win. Here's the Lane letter:
April 12, 2010
Ms. Susan Weidel, Esq. University of Wyoming VIA EMAIL Weidel@uwyo.edu
Re: Meg Lanker and William Ayers v. University of Wyoming
Dear Ms. Weidel:
I have been retained by Ms. Meg Lanker a student at the University of Wyoming, and Mr. William Ayers regarding your email earlier today to Ms. Lanker in which you stated as follows:
Pursuant to our telephone conversation, the University of Wyoming will not be available as a venue for the event you are hosting for Mr. William Ayers.
Having represented Professor Ward Churchill against the University of Colorado in a similar circumstance, it is my belief -- and that of every court which has heard similar cases -- that your action is violative of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. You are prohibiting Mr. Ayers from speaking in a public forum commonly used for such purposes and you are preventing those interested members of the student body and community at large from hearing his message based solely upon the content of that message. As you undoubtedly know, the government is not permitted to censor free speech based upon its content.
If you do not permit Mr. Ayers to speak on campus in the same forum normally used for such purposes, I will proceed to file suit against the University of Wyoming in the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming. I am confident that the court will rule for free speech and against repression.
If I have not heard from you by high noon MDT, April 14th we will proceed to file.
David A. Lane
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Westword's biggest stories.