Verbal Attacks on Judge at Stanford Show Dangerous Erosion of Campus Freedoms: Experts
The disturbing actions of students and faculty deriding and disrupting a federal judge at a California law school earlier this month smacks of Marxist practices, Mike Davis warned on Friday’s “Washington Watch.”
“It’s not free speech to show up and shout someone down. That is not free speech; that’s what Marxists do. And we cannot tolerate this in America. They’ve crossed a red line here — there need to be consequences,” insisted Davis, founder and president of the Article III Project, which defends constitutionalist judges. The students’ actions do not portend well for the future of America’s judiciary, he suggested.
Federal appellate Judge Kyle Duncan was invited to speak at the law school by a student chapter of the Federalist Society. Students and faculty who opposed the school’s student-led invitation to Duncan were prepared for Duncan’s arrival, lining the walkway outside the building and jeering the judge and their fellow law students who looked forward to hearing from Duncan. The ill-mannered protesters shouted and held signs, some profane, that targeted Duncan for some of his rulings from the bench. Things reached a fever pitch as Duncan began to speak, to the point that he was unable to continue due to the din.
Tim Rosenberger is the president of Stanford Law School’s Federalist Society. He and other members invited Duncan to campus. As Rosenberger walked the judge to the location on campus where the event was to be held, Rosenberger recalled hearing this “sort of demonic block party noise.”
“We got up to the door,” Rosenberger said on Friday’s “Washington Watch,” “and there was this gantlet of people — about a 100-person mob — lining both sides of the hallway.”
“And these people had painted faces. They had a poodle-mix dog painted as the trans flag,” he continued. “They had various obscene signs they were waving in the judge's face. Some people were doing chants … objecting to various things the judge did. And some were yelling much [more serious] things. Somebody actually was yelling about how they hoped his daughters would be raped.”
And this, Rosenberger explained to guest host Jody Hice, was even before the judge was introduced to speak. Hice is senior advisor to the president at FRC.
“The judge was shouted down pretty much immediately. There was this din, this raucous noise of people plus crosstalk,” the law student said, noting it was not long before the school’s associate dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion ambled to the front of the room, not intending to bring order but instead to lecture the judge and amp up the protestors. Eventually, two U.S. Marshalls escorted Judge Duncan off of the Stanford campus.
Law schools in the U.S. once were “places where ideas were robustly debated,” Hice said. “But if our nation’s elite law schools and their woke law students have it their way, then the future of our judicial branch might be in jeopardy going forward because we’re going to end up with just one type of legal system, and that’s a woke one, a woke system that does not tolerate anyone who themselves is not woke.”
Hice also noted that it is more and more common to see conservatives’ right to free speech being targeted in similar ways at law schools and on university campuses.
“We’re at an inflection point, and we can either choose reform and revival or we can choose collapse” agreed Rosenberger. “And the legal profession is going to hit this pretty acutely.” Everyone deserves legal representation, he said.
“As a lawyer, you need to be able to represent and serve people you really disagree with. And you have to be able to argue for points you may disagree with, and you have to handle yourself in a profession with people who you might not always agree with,” Rosenberger explained.
“[Yet] if this is how the profession is going to go, if we’re just going to anathematize categories of people, if we’re going to say we hope the children of a federal judge will be raped, if we’re going to have these sick and diabolical mob mentalities, I can’t see the legal profession surviving either in the academy or at the firms,” he stated.
Mike Davis told Hice the tragedy is that many law schools have students and administrators who are focused solely on silencing and canceling those who have opposing ideologies.
“This is happening everywhere, whether it’s Yale or Georgetown or all over the country,” said Davis, who previously served as the chief counsel for nominations to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
Davis said those embracing this “leftist mindset” are not fans of free speech: “They do not believe in tolerance. They believe in censorship. They believe in equity. They believe in intolerance. These are not liberals; these are illiberal people.”
“This is the Marxist left. And the problem is that leftists have infiltrated every place in our society,” he added.
In an opinion piece, “Bring Accountability To Woke Law,” at Newsweek.com, Davis wrote in part: “Law schools ought to serve as bastions of intellectual thought, curiosity, and diversity. But the reality is, there is no diversity of opinion on law school campuses today. Mere openness to alternative viewpoints is punished. Incuriousness is rewarded. Differing views are, quite literally, shouted down.”
In a March 17 commentary in the Wall Street Journal, Judge Duncan wrote: “The most disturbing aspect of this shameful debacle is what it says about the state of legal education. Stanford is an elite law school. The protesters showed not the foggiest grasp of the basic concepts of legal discourse: That one must meet reason with reason, not power. That jeering contempt is the opposite of persuasion. The law protects the speaker from the mob, not the mob from the speaker.”
Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and the dean of the law school, Jenny Martinez, apologized to Duncan after the incident, writing “... What happened was inconsistent with our policies on free speech, and we are very sorry about the experience you had while visiting our campus.”
“We are very clear with our students that, given our commitment to free expression, if there are speakers they disagree with, they are welcome to exercise their right to protest but not to disrupt the proceedings,” the March 11 letter continued.
The apology brought a sharp response from many students at the law school, as students wearing masks and all-black clothing lined the hallway outside of the dean’s constitutional law classroom. According to press reports, many of the estimated several hundred students wore masks with the words “Counter-Speech Is Free Speech” emblazoned upon the face coverings.
“The people actually involved in this demonic mob, the people yelling about rape, the people waving obscene signs at [the judge], the people who've prevented him from speaking, those people aren't apologizing,” Tim Rosenberger said.
“They're completely gleeful right now. Some of them have sent out emails to the listserv of the student body describing this as Stanford University at its best. They're not even feigning contrition,” he added.
K.D. Hastings and his family live in the beautiful hills of Middle Tennessee. He has been engaged in the evangelical world as a communicator since 1994.