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Lawsuit could define debate for on-campus debate at UC-Berkeley

The crest atop U-C Berkeley's Sather Gate
Flickr / Creative Commons
The crest atop U-C Berkeley's Sather Gate

Tempers are running high on all sides amid the bloodshed in the Middle East, which has already claimed thousands of lives, exposing ideological rifts between students and professors at the law school.

EdSource reportsthis situation has spurred a discrimination lawsuit against the UC system and set off a broader debate over who gets to define the boundaries of First Amendment protections.

The war of words first flared last summer when a student group, Law Students for Justice in Palestine, adopted a bylaw that banned supporters of Zionism from speaking at its events. Roughly 22 other student groups have adopted variations of this bylaw.

That's among the reasons the Brandeis Center and Jewish Americans for Fairness in Education are suing UC Berkeley for what they characterize as the "longstanding, unchecked spread of anti-Semitism" on campus. The suit argues that anti-Zionism is a form of antisemitism and that the student group bylaws violate the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause, the First Amendment right to freedom of religion and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

Sunni M. Khalid is a veteran of more than 40 years in journalism, having worked has in print, radio, television, and web journalism.