Dershowitz Threatens Berkeley With Free Speech Law Suit

Protest banners against a right-wing speaker lie on the ground at the University of California, Berkeley. (AP Photo/Daisy Nguyen)

Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz has threatened to sue the University of California at Berkeley for discriminating against pro-Israel speakers on its campus.

Dershowitz, who has been invited to speak at Berkeley, said that he will take the university to court on free speech grounds if he, a “high visibility” advocate for Israel, is made to wait eight weeks before an appearance, while anti-Israel speakers are exempt from the wait.

“If you are high visibility, you have to give eight weeks [notice before being allowed to speak],” Dershowitz told Fox News. “But if a department at the university invites anti-Israel speakers, they don’t have to go through an eight-week waiting period.”

“I’m going to sue Berkeley if they don’t allow me to speak. They make me wait eight weeks and allow anti-Israel speakers to come in three or four days — that is a lawsuit.”

As a public institution which accepts government funding, it is bound by First Amendment freedoms, argues Dershowitz.

“They can’t impose one rule on pro-Israel speakers and one rule on anti-Israel speakers; one rule on conservatives and one on liberals,” he said.

In recent months, Berkeley has seen a number of violent protests by leftist activists against conservative figures invited to speak on campus. The incidents have involved burning cars, smashing windows and causing over $100,000 of damage to campus property.

“The students,” said Dershowitz, “are telling me that they’re being denied the opportunity to listen to speakers that they want to hear.”

Many of these protests have nothing to do with substance and are just a way to shut down speech, he said. “It has nothing to do with the argument … it has nothing to do with what I’m saying. it’s just an attempt to shout me down.”

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