The University of California at Irvine (UCI) located in Orange County California has suspended a Muslim student group from campus for one year. The basis for the suspension arose from multiple disruptions of a speech given by the Israeli ambassador to the United States by members of the Muslim Student Union (MSU), a Muslim student group from UCI. The speech occurred February of 2010 and a recently completed investigation by the University found that the MSU had planned the disruptions and even planned what each person designated to disrupt would say.
The MSU can still appeal the decision to UCI personnel. Each of the people who disrupted the proceedings was led away by law enforcement. It is unknown whether they were individually charged with criminal acts for the disruptions. Under California Penal Code Section 415 an individual may be charged with disrupting the peace with loud noises. Video of the speech shows Ambassador Oren having to stop because of the disruptions several times and it is reported he abandoned a question and answer session scheduled for the end of the speech as a result of the disruptions.
While individuals may be charged with violations of criminal law for what may be argued is a demonstration of a political point of view, it is less clear that a group can be suspended because some of its members violated the law or conspired to disrupt the proceedings. For example, if members of the Republican Party were to disrupt a town hall meeting held at UCI to discuss health care reform, it is unimaginable that the Republican Party would be suspended from participating in group activities on campus. Similarly, it would seem that the constitutional right to association and the constitutional prohibitions against discrimination based on ethnicity and religion would cause the suspension of the MSU to be an unconstitutional act by a state institution. In constitutional law lingo a suspension in this case would be deemed an ‘overbroad’ remedy and therefore unconstitutional. See, Penal Code Section 415.