Monday, June 14, 2010

UC-Irvine Bans MSU Over Israeli Ambassador Disruption

Wow. The formal decision letter is here, detailing the various provisions of the UCI student code that the Muslim Student Union violated when it persistently disrupted a planned speech on campus being delivered by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren. As a result, the university has suspended the MSU for one year. I'm not an expert on campus free speech issues, so I don't weigh in on the legal issues this undoubtedly raises, but I do think this is probably going to turn into a much bigger controversy.

Via the VC.


Bruce said...


I'm sure it's going to be a big thing, particularly because UC-Irvine is a public institution. But speech and conduct are not the same thing; the First Amendment protects the former and not the latter.


David Schraub said...

The First Amendment does protect some (expressive) conduct, albeit more haphazardly than "pure" speech, and what the MSU students did here (stand up and shout at the speaker) certainly teeters on the border of speech and conduct anyway.

PG said...

Burning a flag is expressive conduct that even Justice Scalia deems protected under the First Amendment. How can yelling at a speaker not be considered speech?

However, the Supreme Court has long read the First Amendment to allow for "time, place and manner" restrictions. So long as UC-Irvine afforded students who wished the protest the ambassador the opportunity to do so at some reasonable time and place (e.g. before and after the speech, or outside the facility where the speech was given, or by silently standing at the back of the auditorium with pictures of dead Palestinians), the university's First Amendment obligations have been fulfilled. I have no patience for the wide variety of ass-clowns who think the First Amendment entitles them to effectively prevent others from speaking.