201. When Provocation Meets Protest...The Free Speech Conundrum on Campus

DATE: Friday, July 21, 2017      TIME: 8:30 AM - 9:30 AM
LOCATION: City Hall, Committee Room 120

American universities once were havens for the free exchange of ideas and speech, but increasingly, they have become our primary cultural battlegrounds — literally and figuratively — for the clash of ideas. From attacks on academic freedom, to campus “speech codes,” the banning or marginalizing of certain speakers or viewpoints that are deemed “dangerous” or politically incorrect, and protests that seek to shut down perceived offensive speech with the classic “heckler’s veto,” speech is undoubtedly under attack in our institutions of higher learning. Within the past year, speakers including Vice President Pence, Linda Sarsour, Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos, Charles Murray, and Condoleezza Rice all have faced protests and calls for banning/disinvitation. How can our academic institutions practically balance free speech rights and tolerance for different viewpoints, against other imperatives, including safety? Is the existing legal framework adequate to balance these concerns, and is balancing even the appropriate legal test? Which institutions are meeting these challenges well, and can provide guidance for others?

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Tina Yang

Associate, Baker Botts LLP

Tina Yang is an associate in Baker Botts LLP’s Palo Alto office and a member of the Intellectual Property Practice Group.  Ms. Yang’s practice focuses on transaction-related due diligence, patent prosecution and patent litigation. Ms. Yang has experience with due diligence and landscape-review analyses to assess freedom-to-operate and patent-infringement risks and to identify areas for acquisition and licensing. Ms. Yang also has a broad range of experience in domestic and foreign patent procurement, opinion and counseling matters in areas including user-interface technology, software, cloud computing, smartwatch technology, medical devices and database management. In addition, Ms. Yang’s experience in patent litigation includes inter partes review proceedings, infringement and invalidity analyses and discovery and motion practice.

Ms. Yang received her J.D. from Washington University School of Law and B.S. from University of California, Berkeley.


Partner, Dhillon Law Group

Harmeet Dhillon

Harmeet Kaur Dhillon, the founder and senior partner of Dhillon Law Group Inc., is an experienced business trial lawyer, trusted boardroom advisor, and passionate advocate for individual, corporate and institutional clients across numerous industries and walks of life. From an early interest in constitutional litigation and positions at a nonprofit and the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, to a decade of practice at prestigious international law firms, to founding litigation boutique Dhillon Law Group in 2006, Harmeet’s legal career has been marked by a passion for justice, a zeal for attacking legal challenges, and very active civic engagement.

Harmeet has been active in public policy and political causes since college, when she was an Editor in Chief of The Dartmouth Review, a conservative campus newspaper. Her first political campaign work was as the President of Dartmouth Students for Jack Kemp in the 1988 primary election. She was President of the Federalist Society of the University of Virginia Law School, and clerked for Hon. Paul V. Niemeyer in the 4th Circuit (author of the main dissent in the recent travel ban en banc ruling in that court). Harmeet has run for office twice, as the first Indian American major party nominee for State Assembly in California (2008) and State Senate (2012). She has been a California Republican Party delegate for over a decade, representing San Francisco. She was the chair of the San Francisco Republican Party for four years, served for three year as Vice Chairman of the California Republican Party (as the first woman to win that position), and currently is the RNC Committeewoman from California, representing California on the RNC Standing Rules Committee. At the 2016 Republican National Convention, Harmeet was an at-large delegate from California for Donald Trump, served as the California Committeewoman on the Convention Rules Committee, and opened the second day nominating floor session of the convention with a Sikh prayer sung in Punjabi and translated to English.

Harmeet has won numerous awards and recognition for her pro bono legal work on behalf of domestic violence survivors, religious discrimination plaintiffs, and asylum seekers fleeing religious or political persecution. Harmeet lives in San Francisco on the crooked block of Lombard Street, and northern Sonoma County with her husband, where they enjoy sailing and hiking along the ocean bluffs.

Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Foundation of Northern California

Linda Lye

Linda Lye is an experienced litigator who works on a wide variety of issues, including surveillance, open government, free speech, economic justice, and the death penalty.

Her current litigation includes a challenge to California’s lethal injection statute, and a challenge to a domestic spying program known as the National Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative, which authorizes the collection and dissemination of personal information about individuals who have not engaged in any wrongdoing. 

She has brought numerous successful Freedom of Information Act and Public Records Act cases on issues ranging from surveillance to the underwater mortgage crisis and the death penalty.  She has also successfully litigated free speech cases in state and federal court.

She served as a lead negotiator in establishing a groundbreaking partnership between community organizations and Facebook to develop solutions to the affordable housing crisis.  The partnership will bring $20 million in benefits to low-income communities near Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters. 

In 2015, The Recorder named Linda as one of “Four Public Interest Lawyers To Know.”  She frequently lectures at conferences, and has been repeatedly invited to speak to federal judges and magistrates on surveillance issues.  From 2014 through 2016, she served as a Lawyer Representative to the Ninth Circuit for the Northern District of California. 

Linda was previously a partner at Altshuler Berzon, a San Francisco law firm specializing in labor and employment law.  She clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the United States Supreme Court and Judge Guido Calabresi of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She received her law degree from the University of California at Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law and her undergraduate degree from Yale College.