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'Irvine 10' conviction constitutionally sound
by Alan M. Dershowitz
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.
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