There is little doubt that 10 members of the so-called Irvine 11 broke the law when they plotted to and then disrupted a speech at UC Irvine by Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren.
Prosecutors and Constitutional law experts pointed out that free-speech protections are not absolute and that the Muslim students from UCI and UC Riverside knowingly traipsed across a legal line — no matter how thin. A jury agreed, convicting each of the remaining defendants — the 11th wisely opted for community service before the predictable verdict — on misdemeanor charges.
An appeal is in the works, but we don't think the defendants have much of a case. As it was made plain in the trial, free-speech protections don't protect one speaker from drowning out another. The 1st Amendment does not extend to what the prosecution correctly labeled the heckler's veto. So free-speech arguments, no matter how patriotic and emotional, aren't going to expunge these students' criminal records.