David Lane Strikes Again, Forces University Of Wyoming To Allow Bill Ayers Speech

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) -- A federal judge has ruled that the University of Wyoming must allow 1960s radical William Ayers to speak on the school's campus in Laramie.

U.S. District Judge William Downes issued the ruling Tuesday after a Monday court hearing.

The university had cited threats of violence in not allowing Ayers to speak at a campus event planned for Wednesday. Downes says such threats can't be used as a reason to deny Ayers' right to speak on campus.

Ayers now plans to speak at UW on Wednesday at the invitation of a student.

Ayers is a professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago. He co-founded an anti-war group that claimed responsibility for a series of nonfatal bombings to protest U.S. foreign policies during the Vietnam War era.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - A federal judge is expected to decide Tuesday whether a 1960s radical thrust into the spotlight during the 2008 presidential campaign should be allowed to speak at the University of Wyoming.

U.S. District Judge William Downes heard more than five hours of testimony and arguments Monday in the quest by University of Illinois-Chicago professor William Ayers to force the school to allow him to speak.

UW President Tom Buchanan testified that the decision to bar Ayers from speaking on campus this week was based on concerns about the safety and security of Ayers, students and faculty. He said he thought violence was possible if the speech was allowed because of the types of threats the school received, which were unlike any "I have seen in my 30 years at the University of Wyoming."

Ayers co-founded an anti-war group that claimed responsibility for a series of nonfatal bombings to protest U.S. foreign policies during the Vietnam War era.

He originally was invited to speak at the university in Laramie on April 5 by the privately endowed UW Social Justice Research Center. But the center's director, Franciso Rios, canceled the event after the invitation drew hundreds of protests.

UW student Meg Lanker then extended an invitation to Ayers to speak at the school Wednesday, but the university refused to rent out its sports complex for the event. Lanker and Ayers, who is planning an off-campus speech Wednesday night, filed a lawsuit against the school, saying it violated their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly.

In court Monday, Lanker and Ayers attorney David Lane of Denver said security concerns have been overblown and the university is more worried about losing donations.

One of the donors who threatened to quit contributing recently gave about $2 million to the university, Lane said.

"Overriding the hecklers' veto is the big donors' veto," he said.

Lane said Ayers was being blocked from the campus because of his ideas.

Ayers was a co-founder of Weather Underground, a radical anti-war group that claimed to be responsible for a series of bombings, including nonfatal explosions at the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol. He was a fugitive for years before surrendering in 1980. Charges against him were later dropped because of prosecutorial misconduct.

Before becoming president, Barack Obama served with Ayers on the board of a Chicago charity. And Republican Sen. John McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, made it an issue in the 2008 campaign, accusing Obama of "palling around with terrorists."

Obama has condemned Ayers' radical activities, and there's no evidence they were ever close friends or that Ayers advised Obama on policy.

Thomas Rice, the university's attorney, said Monday the decision to ban Ayers from speaking on campus was aimed at safety and wasn't "viewpoint-oriented."

Ayers testified by videophone that he has received threats before speeches at other schools, but nothing has ever happened.

If Ayers wins a preliminary injunction allowing him to talk on campus, he will discuss free speech, Lane said. In an off-campus speech Wednesday night, Ayers will discuss education.

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