OC Jewish Experience

The official blog of Jewish Orange County

Free Speech at UC Irvine? Legal Minds Weigh In.

Great legal minds are weighing in on the recent events at UC Irvine and free speech this week.

Yesterday, noted Harvard Professor and author Alan Dershowitz penned a column for the Huffington Post called Rights of the Speaker Versus “Rights” of the Disruptors.

“It is true that an individual heckler may have the right to shout in opposition to a speaker, so long as his shouted words are brief and non-recurrent,” Dershowitz wrote in the article. “But any fair viewing of the videotape, available on YouTube, proves beyond any doubt that this was a concerted effort to silence Michael Oren and to prevent his audience from hearing his point of view. The university was correctly embarrassed at this attempt at censorship.”

His expert legal opinion is not the only one that cites a lack of free speech on the UC Irvine campus.  Erwin Cherminsky, the founding Dean of the UC Irvine law school and a nationally recognized expert on the U.S. Constitution was quoted in an Orange County Register article one week ago that the Muslim students protesting the visit by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren were suppressing free speech on the California campus.

Chemerinsky followed up the interview with an OP-ED article int he Los Angeles Times Today titled “Free Speech and the ‘Irvine 11’ “

In the article, Chemerinsky penned, “However, freedom of speech never has been regarded as an absolute right to speak out at any time and in any manner.  Long ago, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes explained that there was no right to falsely shout “fire” in a crowded theater.”

It appears that administrators at UCI have also taken note.  Manuel Gomez, the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at UCI, said in an Open Letter via the New University, the student newspaper, “Preventing someone else from speaking is not the same thing as exercising free speech.”

It appears many agree that students tried to prevent a basic right.  others disagree.  Stay tuned to the results of the University’s investigation.


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February 18, 2010 - Posted by | Free Speech, Israel, Muslim Student Union, UC Irvine | , , , , , , , , , ,

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