CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The University of Cincinnati wants a federal judge to toss out a $2 million lawsuit filed by the organizer for white nationalist Richard Spencer's campus tour.
The suit was filed last month by Cameron Padgett, organizer of Spencer' s tour. It claims UC won't rent space for Spencer to speak until a $10,833 security fee is paid and calls the requirement discriminatory and unconstitutional.
Related story: UC hit with $2M lawsuit over Spencer speech security fee
In a response filed Thursday, UC calls the suit "meritless."
"The University of Cincinnati respects the principles of the First Amendment and freedom of speech. Plaintiff—who is not a student or in any way affiliated with the University—requested to rent space inside a University building to hold a speaking event featuring Richard Spencer, who is also not affiliated with the University," UC's response reads.
"The University agreed to honor that request and offered to rent Plaintiff a room in Zimmer Hall on March 14, 2018, for this event. University public safety experts developed a safety plan to provide security and law enforcement personnel for this event.
"The portion of the rental fee at issue in this case is only a mere fraction of the costs associated with the overall safety plan. In assessing this fee, no consideration was given to the content of any speech at the event or potential audience reaction to any speech.
Such a content-neutral fee is properly assessed to the person or group hosting the event consistent with prior University practice. Despite the University's efforts to accommodate his request consistent with the principles of free speech, Plaintiff brought this meritless lawsuit."
The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott.
Spencer drew large crowds -- of both protesters and supporters -- in October when he spoke at the University of Florida. That week, U.S. Senator for Florida Marco Rubio described Spencer's message as racist.
Padgett successfully sued Auburn University, which settled for $29,000 a federal judge ordered it to permit a Spencer event to proceed and is currently suing Ohio State University, Michigan State University and Pennsylvania University.