At Berkeley, a Protest at a Dean’s Home Tests the Limits of Free Speech

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The dean of Berkeley’s law school is known as a staunch supporter of free speech, but things became personal for him when pro-Palestinian students disrupted a celebratory dinner party for some 60 students at his home.

In a viral video, Erwin Chemerinsky, a noted constitutional scholar, can be seen shouting “Please leave our house! You are guests in our house!” as a third-year law student, Malak Afaneh, interrupted the event on Tuesday, speaking into a microphone to the students gathered in the dean’s backyard in Oakland, Calif.

Mr. Chemerinsky’s wife, Catherine Fisk, also a Berkeley law professor, can be seen with her arm around Ms. Afaneh, trying to yank the microphone away and pulling the student up a couple steps.

Ms. Afaneh and her supporters, who were invited to the dinner, described Ms. Fisk’s struggle for the microphone as a disproportionate and violent response. Students, they said, had a right to speak at a university gathering. The dinner was open to all third-year law students and paid for by the university, according to Mr. Chemerinsky.

Mr. Chemerinsky and his supporters say that the students, who brought their own microphone and amp, had no such right in a private home, at a dinner with no planned remarks.

Mr. Chemerinsky has supported speech rights for pro-Palestinian students, including the right to block Zionists from speaking to their groups.

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