Heckler’s veto

Not all speech is protected and First Amendment rights are not unlimited.

Speech that infringes on the First Amendment rights of others is also known as “heckler’s veto.” There is no First Amendment right to shout-down a speaker. The use of force or disruption to silence speech is not protected speech – it is a form of censorship which the university does not tolerate. It is critical in a community of higher learning to support each individual’s right to express their viewpoint. USC will not permit students to prevent others with whom they disagree from expressing their views in accordance with the First Amendment.

Remember that the university does not tolerate coercive disruption – the physical interference with others’ peaceful exercise of free speech – or conduct that physically endangers the safety of bystanders.

Coercive disruption includes physically blocking access to a speaking event, physical intimidation of a speaker, and noisemaking that prevents a speaker from being heard. If this kind of conduct occurs during any university-sanctioned activity or function, the university will act to restore the conditions under which free speech can flourish and any student who engages in coercive disruption may be removed and subject to disciplinary action.