Posted by: mulrickillion | October 4, 2011

Conviction of the "Irvine Ten" is Constitutionally Sound

By Alan M. Dershowitz,  Hudson New York, Sept 30, 2011 —

Ten students who set out to prevent Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren from speaking to students at the University of California Irvine campus have been convicted of a California misdemeanor and sentenced to probation and a fine.  The California statute is designed to protect the First Amendment rights of a speaker and his audience against those who would censor the speaker by deliberately disruptive conduct.  The conduct engaged in by the students, acting on behalf of a University of California Muslim group, was more than merely disruptive in the sense of episodic booing or heckling.  It was calculated to "shut down", in the words of one of the students, Ambassador Oren.  In such a case, the First Amendment is clearly on the side of the prosecutor who seeks to prevent the censorship of protected speech, rather than on the side of those who have conspired to censor speech with which they disagree.

No reputable constitutional scholar would defend the right of students to conspire to prevent an invited speaker from presenting his speech.  Most universities have rules prohibiting the "heckler’s veto" from silencing an invited speaker.  Yet, because the students in this case were Muslims who were trying to prevent an Israeli diplomat from speaking, many on the hard left are making heroes of these ten censors, and villains of prosecutors who did their duty in protecting the First Amendment.  Even the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, which is supposed to protect the First Amendment right of speakers, came down on the wrong side of this issue. . . .

Conviction of the "Irvine Ten" is Constitutionally Sound: Hudson New York

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