Court upholds dismissal of Hale's suit

White supremacist claims ISU unfairly denied right to speak

Peoria Journal-Star/July 29, 2000
By Adriana Colinders of Copley News Service

Springfield - An Illinois appellate court has upheld a McLean County judge's dismissal of a lawsuit filed by white supremacist Matt Hale, who claimed that Illinois State University unfairly denied him the right to speak to a campus group.

The suit contended that an ISU student's e-mail to Hale constituted a contract inviting him to speak at a lecture series in February 1999. Hale said the contract was broken when the student withdrew the invitation, saying, "Your philosophy and goals for your speech regarding the white supremacy movement are incompatible" with the lecture series. In a ruling filed Wednesday, the 4th District Appellate Court said the parties never reached agreement on the topic and content of the speech, "and therefore no contract was formed."

Hale's lawsuit named three parties as defendants: ISU, Global Review Student Association President Anna Panocha, who wrote the e-mails to Hale, and Global Review adviser Marilyn Boyd. The appellate court decision upheld an October ruling by McLean County Circuit Judge Luther Dearborn.

Hale, an East Peorian who turned 29 on Thursday, said he was disappointed by the decision. He hasn't decided whether to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.

"No matter what, I have made it clear to ISU and other universities that they will not tread upon the liberties of white racists with impunity," said Hale, leader of the East Peoria-based World Church of the Creator. "This gives me a great amount of satisfaction."

Hale captured national headlines last year when alleged follower Benjamin Smith - a former Morton resident - shot to death two people, including a former Northwestern University basketball coach, wounded nine others and then killed himself during Independence Day weekend.

Hale, a graduate of the Southern Illinois University law school and Bradley University in Peoria, has been unsuccessful in his efforts to get a law license enabling him to practice in Illinois.

A state panel that judges prospective attorneys on their "character and fitness" upheld an earlier decision not to give Hale a license and cited "a gross deficiency in moral character."

Last November, the Illinois Supreme Court refused to hear the case. Hale then petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court. In June, it, too, refused to hear the case.

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