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Stanford Law School Student Hooligans Shout Down Federal Judge

‘The protesters showed not the foggiest grasp of the basic concepts of legal discourse’

By Evan Gahr, March 18, 2023 9:42 am

Stanford University has apologized to a Donald Trump-appointed federal judge who was shouted down by woke student protestors–egged on by an administrator–when he tried to talk at the law school last Thursday.

Stanford is one of the nation’s top-rated law school. But it sounds like the school is turning out professional hooligans not lawyers. Lawyers are required to respond to opponents’ arguments. You can’t shout someone down in a courtroom.

Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Stanford Law School Dean Jenny Martinez wrote to appeals Judge Kyle Duncan to offer their “sincerest apologies” for the behavior of students Duncan later called “hypocrites,” “idiots” and “bullies.”

The dean and Stanford president told the judge that “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 disrupt the proceedings.”

They also addressed the conduct of a dean for diversity, Tieren Steinbach, who had berated the judge after he asked for an administrator to stop the students from heckling him.

“Staff members who should have enforced university policies failed to do so, and instead intervened in inappropriate ways that are not aligned with the university’s commitment to free speech,” the letter said.

“We are taking steps to ensure that something like this does not happen again,” Tessier-Lavigne and Martinez promised.

“Freedom of speech is a bedrock principle for the law school, the university, and a democratic society, and we can and must do better to ensure that it continues even in polarized times,” they vowed.

But they did not say if the students who disrupted the judge would be disciplined. Stanford Law School rules explicitly prohibit disrupting speakers.

And the school is also refusing to make public a video recording it made of the event.

Nevertheless,  the apology enraged the students, who are clearly used to being coddled.  On Monday March 13 they defaced the classroom of Stanford law dean Jenny Martinez.  They entirely covered the whiteboard of the classroom with fliers that said “counterspeech is free speech”  and “we have free speech rights too” and “we the students in your class are sorry for exercising our First Amendment rights.”

Martinez taught the class without interruption. But after the class ended and she exited the room, 50 out of the 60 students stood and stared silently at her, according to the Washington Free Beacon.  They were dressed in all black and wore masks that said “counterspeech is free speech.”

Outside the classroom, hundreds of students lined the corridor, giving students who had not joined the protest dirty looks. “They gave us weird looks” if we didn’t wear black and join the protest, first year student Luke Schumacher told the Washington Free Beacon.”It didn’t feel like the inclusive, belonging atmosphere that the DEI office claims to be creating.”

The original fracas occurred last Thursday March 9 but the conservative Stanford Federalist Society’s invitation to Judge Duncan of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to speak had roiled up woke students even before he arrived. Instead of welcoming a debate with a very accomplished adversary, students were aiming to shut him down.

Students distributed fliers that said Federalist Society members should be ashamed for inviting someone who had fought against abortion and same sex marriage and allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice. They also claimed–falsely– that he had “fought to deny black Americans the right to vote.”

At the day of the event, according to an account in legal writer David Lat’s Substack essay, approximately 100 student protestors stood outside the room where Duncan was to speak and booed students who entered the room calling them out by name.  They carried signs that said RESPECT TRANS RIGHTS,” “FEDSUCK,” “BE PRONOUN NOT PRO-BIGOT,” and “JUDGE DUNCAN CAN’T FIND THE CLIT.” They also carried trans flags.

When the Stanford Federalist Society  president Tim Rosenberger started talking to open the event he was booed and interrupted as he tried to talk.

The moment Duncan started talking students started shouting him down.

As Lat recounts, “Judge Duncan then took the stage—and from the beginning of his speech, the protestors booed and heckled continually. For about ten minutes, the judge tried to give his planned remarks, but the protestors simply yelled over him, with exclamations like “You couldn’t get into Stanford!” “You’re not welcome here, we hate you!” “Why do you hate black people?!” “Leave and never come back!” “We hate FedSoc students, fuck them, they don’t belong here either!” and “We do not respect you and you have no right to speak here! This is our jurisdiction!”

As the judge tried to speak students shouted “scumbag” and “liar.”

The judge was clearly disgusted by the student antics. Multiple administrators were in the room but made no attempt to stop the student protestors.  Finally, the judge asked for an administrator to intercede.

Tirien Steinbach, the associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, then took the podium and read from a prepared speech in which she said the harm the judge’s presence was doing to students might not be worth the value of protecting free speech.  “For many people here, your work has caused harm,”she said, asking Duncan “Is the juice worth the squeeze?”

She repeated the question, as protestors showed signs of approval.

“Do you have something so important to say” that it is worth the division you are sowing, she asked the judge accusingly.

Duncan accused Steinbach of setting him up. Unable to finish the speech he took questions from the students who proceeded to harangue him further and show they had no desire for genuine dialogue but simply wanted to preen with moral superiority.

One student berated him for voting to restrict black voting rights. It turned out he had actually dissented from the opinion that the student cited.

Another student said, “I fuck men. I can find the prostate. Why can’t you find the clit.”

Another student asked the judge about an opinion he had written denying a transgender prisoner’s request to be called by “her” requested female pronouns.  Duncan ruled that federal courts have no authority to order what pronouns are used to refer to a prisoner.

“Read the opinion,” the judge snapped.”Next Question.”

Eventually Duncan left the room, escorted out by U.S. Marshals and calling one student questioner an “appalling idiot.”

Duncan, who has said diversity dean Tirien Steinbach, should be fired for her conduct, did not reply to a request for comment from the California Globe.

But in a March 17 op-ed for the Wall Street Journal he said the episode bodes very poorly for legal education today. “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. That the law protects the speaker from the mob, not the mob from the speaker. Worst of all, Ms. Steinbach’s remarks made clear she is proud that Stanford students are being taught this is the way law should be.”

Glenn Ricketts, spokesman for the National Association of Scholars, which promotes academic freedom, echoed those sentiments in an email to the California Globe. “What’s stinking in this case is that a senior administrator endorsed the disruption. The manner in which the students behaved is unfortunately something I’ve come to expect.  Much more of a problem is that they were joined and encouraged by one of Stanford’s DEI administrators, who took the mike and told the judge how “hurtful” etc. his judicial decisions were.  Bad case all around, and I fear that there’s worse to come.”

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29 thoughts on “Stanford Law School Student Hooligans Shout Down Federal Judge

  1. These adult students – who presumably met the bar for Stanford – behave worse than children.
    If this is the caliber of student that Standford is turning out, it will further cripple society.

  2. The hollowing out of the Stanford undergraduate curriculum started in the 1980’s with the abandonment of the Western Civilization requirement. Apparently, some of the faculty now believe that it was a big mistake: https://stanfordreview.org/the-hollowing-out-of-stanford-classics/. As I recall, one of the leaders who lead the charge against Western Civilization was the university president, Donald Kennedy – a Biology Dept. faculty member.

  3. Symptomatic of Liberal leadership of this state and Stanford. They should schedule a road trip to Marxist Columbia and see how well that turns out for them. Stanford’s getting quite the reputation between FTX and Law School
    and it doesn’t bode well (worldwide). “Conservative Judge Abused at Stanford Law School Said Protesters Told
    Him They Hoped His Daughters Would be RAPED, As Its Revealed They Were Angry at Him for Misgendering a
    Transgender Pedophile” (dailymail.co.uk) This is the level of incivility and inhumanity Liberal states cultivate.

  4. ……so may friend says to me. “do you know when you meet someone if they went to Stanford?”
    my reply, “no”…..its easy, you don’t have to ask, they will tell you.
    Spoiled, rich kids,,,,,,,,,,our future intolerant, immature leaders of the free world!
    No discipline from admin? Of course not, they are most tolerant and over-paid.

  5. The students are pushing for a form of government that won’t need any lawyers!! And they’re too dumbed down to even realize it while at the same time paying tens of thousands of dollars in tuition!

    1. They are not bright, and they are immature. Leftists often never mature. They are children their entire lives. Pathetic.

  6. I don’t have a problem with this – in fact, we haven’t had enough legitimate student activism (especially anti-war activism) – and there is a problem with our judgeships usurping legislative authority. Back in 1961, it was UC Berkeley students who shouted down a San Francisco meeting of the House Un-American Activities Committee, permanently putting an end to McCarthyism on the West Coast. Those students were called “hooligans” at the time by the FBI, newspapers, and the John Birch Society. In retrospect, the student “hooligans” were on the right side of history.

    This protest brought attention to Judge Kyle Duncan, about whom I knew nothing. A quick look at his history reveals he denied habeus corpus for a Texas death row inmate who is likely innocent, argued against same sex marriage at the US Supreme Court, and has generally gone out of his way to litigate transgender issues. Sometimes I agree with him, sometimes I disagree, but he does appear to be a very political judge where one expects a judge to be fair and impartial.

    What do you expect the students who disagree with him to do? Write a letter?

    1. @Tom Busse, I think that misses an important point: these students are law students who are supposed to be learning about the practice of law. They could have protested through a well-informed series of questions that revealed the judge’s controversial decisions as a public and intelligent rebuttal of what he represented. A guest lecture at a university is vastly different than a legislative committee meeting. They aren’t saving society; they’re proving their self-righteousness and lack of intellectual rigour. The use of denigrating and vulgar words on signs is the definition of a vacuous ad hominem attack. They’ll never make it in a court environment.

    2. The main thing they can do is to not bring signs to a seminar that say “how come you can’t find the clit” and “FedSuck” and proceed to scream at him at the top of their lungs so that the seminar cannot proceed, because that is in fact illegal. The students lawfully attending, be reminded they and/or their parents are on the hook for the tuition along with Federal subsidies making this event subject to the 1st amendment of the Constitution, are benefitted the rights that they have free and unfettered access to the information which they are provided by the school. They do have the absolute right to hear and discuss with this person who has been invited for their benefit.

      The 5th circuit is somewhere in the vicinity of Louisiana, so screaming at a Judge who is not even in your area of the country from a court that seats around several dozen other judges just because he doesn’t fall in lockstep with your beliefs is unbelievably closed minded and selfish. If they do not like this particular judge they do have the right to vote for someone to the White House who exactly reflects their views, and the judicial philosophy of the country will shift, but guess what. There are people with other views and sometimes those views are reflected by the president who is in the White House, can you imagine not everyone thinks the same, I know it is hard. I imagine anyone identified in this video will have a stain on their reputation for the rest of their lives, I hope they will learn something from that, and reflect on how to mature into better citizens.

    3. Your are astoundingly ignorant. The man is a JUDGE….He embodies the law and was entitled to a modicum of respect. They behaved like spoiled ignorant brats who bullied a judge because they were incapable of intelligent discourse.

      1. The man is a poor excuse for a judge who was clearly unable to handle the situation that was created for the opportunity to cry and moan about how he was being treated.
        His legal career was spent advocating for the curtailment of the rights of others. He was put on the bench with the expectation he would continue that crusade; he is fulfilling that expectation.
        Everyone knew what was going to happen, especially Judge Duncan. Stop acting like it was a big terrible surprise.

  7. You can have people who test smart, and are absolute idiots in every other respect. I think that would describe these Stanford Law babies.

  8. I’m quite happy to hear from other people that Stanford Law graduates are persona non grata at various places of potential employment. They’re seen as trouble. You’d think Stanford would care about their reputation and take meaningful action. 🙄

  9. So Stanford students decided that Free Speech means only allowing people they agree with to speak. Would someone familiarize them with the Constitution of the United States? The one they will be required to protect and defend?

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