The students interrupted a February 2010 speech by Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, by taking turns standing up and shouting their objections to Israeli-government policies...The protest took place at the University of California at Irvine. Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the law school there said it was a "terrible mistake" to prosecute the students. But he's also written that it does not violate free speech rights to ban the disruption of a speech:
Both prosecutors and lawyers for the defendants said they were protecting the principle of freedom of speech. The prosecutors accused the students of deliberate censorship, while the students' lawyers argued that their clients were conducting a common campus protest and should not have been prevented from expressing their views....
[T]here are now posters around campus referring to the unjust treatment of the "Irvine 11" and saying they were just engaging in speech themselves. However... [t]he government, including public universities, always can impose time, place and manner restrictions on speech. A person who comes into my classroom and shouts so that I cannot teach surely can be punished without offending the 1st Amendment. Likewise, those who yelled to keep the ambassador from being heard were not engaged in constitutionally protected behavior.Do you think Dean Chemerinsky would be impressed by the argument that Oren was an outsider who made an antagonistic deliberate transgression on a community?
Freedom of speech, on campuses and elsewhere, is rendered meaningless if speakers can be shouted down by those who disagree. The law is well established that the government can act to prevent a heckler's veto -- to prevent the reaction of the audience from silencing the speaker. There is simply no 1st Amendment right to go into an auditorium and prevent a speaker from being heard, no matter who the speaker is or how strongly one disagrees with his or her message.