Aaron Sibarium has been covering the Stanford Law School deplatforming of Judge Kyle Duncan closely and today he has another scoop about something that happened at the school yesterday. All you need to know to follow this one is that Jenny Martinez is the dean of the law school and after putting out an initial statement which was a bit tepid, she joined the president of Stanford in an Apology to Judge Duncan, The student protestors apparently didn’t like that. Monday they put on a show of force outside a classroom where Dean Martinez was teaching a constitutional law class,
The embattled dean arrived to the classroom where she teaches constitutional law to find a whiteboard covered inch to inch in fliers attacking Duncan and defending those who disrupted him, according to photos of the room and multiple eyewitness accounts. The fliers parroted the argument, made by student activists, that the heckler’s veto is a form of free speech.
Sibarium has a photo of the whiteboard. It’s covered in 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper with simple slogans like “Counter speech is free speech” and “We have free speech rights too.” Those statements are of course true, up to a point. Stanford’s policies on free speech allow for noisy protests outside an event and for non-disruptive protests (such as holding signs) inside an event. What they clearly don’t allow is noisy protests inside an event which are intended to drown out a speaker or make it impossible for him to speak or to be heard.
The student activists seem to have brushed up on Stanford’s policies because instead of disrupting dean Martinez’ classroom during her lecture, they waited outside and lined the corridors. to the exit in a silent protest.
When Martinez’s class adjourned on Monday, the protesters, dressed in black and wearing face masks that read “counter-speech is free speech,” stared silently at Martinez as she exited her first-year constitutional law class at 11:00 am, according to Five students who witnessed the episode. The student protesters, who formed a human corridor from Martinez’s classroom to the building’s exit, comprised nearly a third of the law school, the students told the Washington Free Beacon.
Most of Dean Martinez’ class joined the protest and those who didn’t join got the stink eye from the protesters.
“They gave us weird looks if we didn’t wear black” and joined the crowd, said Luke Schumacher, a first-year law student in Martinez’s class who declined to participate in the protest. “It didn’t feel like the inclusive, belonging atmosphere that the DEI office claims to be creating.”…
After Martinez left the building, Schumacher said, the protesters began to cheer, cry, and hug. “We are creating a hostile environment at this law school,” Schumacher said—”hostile for anyone who thinks an Article III judge should be able to speak without heckling.”
Another student who chose not to join the protest yesterday noted the irony. The signs and silent protest outside the room would have been perfectly fine as a response to Judge Duncan. In fact, they could have cheered and jeered him outside the room before and after so long as they didn’t prevent him from speaking.
Sibarium also points out that the far left National Lawyer’s Guild sent an email over the weekend praising the students and encouraging Stanford to give up on its commitment to free speech for bad people. like Judge Duncan,
Stanford Law School’s statement on diversity, equity and inclusion claims that the law school is “committed to enhancing its focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion to ensure that all members of our community achieve their fullest potential,” and claims that Stanford Law strives to “create a culture where all members of the community share a sense of belonging, and respect.”
However such language might be weaponized by conservative students who feel victimized by yesterday’s events, its genuine import, and applicability to those events ought to be patently obvious: the law school cannot have a culture where LGBTQ+ students, especially queer and trans POC,” share a sense of belonging and respect” if speakers like Judge Duncan are normalized on our campus. Stanford can accede to the Federalist Society’s interest in the outcome of this event (namely, that such generative protests should not be allowed to happen again), or it can further its supposed commitment to belongingness. It cannot do both.
The NLG is right. Stanford can stick with progressive orthodoxy or it can have free speech but not both. Despite the belated apology, it remains to be seen which one they’ll choose.
Finally, since we’re on this topic, Vox has a piece today by Ian Millhiser arguing that this whole controversy comes at a terrible time. for progressives,
On Thursday, what could be the single most important transgender rights case in American history reached the Supreme Court.
West Virginia v. BPJ asks the Supreme Court to address whether any government discrimination against transgender people is inherently suspect under the Constitution, and thus must be subject to “heightened scrutiny” by the courts. If the Supreme Court reaches this question, it will be the justices’ first decision on whether the Constitution provides broad protection against anti-trans discrimination (although the Court has held that a federal statute prohibits such discrimination by employers)…
The plaintiff in BPJ was a sixth grade student when she filed this lawsuit. She hoped to join the girls’ cross country and track teams at her school, but because she is transgender, she was not allowed to under a West Virginia law, which provides that school athletes must play for the team that corresponds with their “biological sex.” She sued to challenge this law…
And eventually he gets around to connecting this to the incident at Stanford, albeit in a somewhat roundabout way,
…if you tried to engineer a controversy in a lab with the goal of outrageous a Court dominated by Federalist Society stalwarts, you would come up with something like this confrontation…
The five most conservative members of the Supreme Court are all regular speakers at Federalist Society events, including at a banquet the Federalist Society hosts every year as part of its annual lawyer’s convention. Last fall, four justices attended that banquet — even though two of them weren’t even on the speakers’ list…
It is easy to see, in other words, why this incident appeared to confirm many Federalist Society members’ deepest fears. A representative of one of the nation’s leading law schools seemed to be telling a prominent member of the Federalist Society—a sitting federal judge! — that his ideas would only be begrudgingly tolerated on Stanford’s campus.
In short, this incident at Stanford almost certainly has the attention of Judge Duncan’s fellow Federalist Society fans at the Supreme Court. That much of his argument I think is quite likely.goes on to suggest bad feelings about the Stanford incident could incline the conservatives to issue a ruling on the BPJ case now (it’s on the “shadow docket”) rather than wait for it to make the rounds in lower courts.
He’s clearly speculating so we’ll have to wait and see what the Justices decide to do. I haven’t read the case in question but if it’s as Millhiser describes it, I hope someone will reject it. A sixth grade trans girl is, in every way that matters on the field, a boy. Granted at age 12 this particular trans girl may not have grown or developed all that much, but a decision to allow this would presumably last beyond a single grade. Allowing other trans girls who are larger and more muscular to play on girls sports teams seems unfair to the girls involved and is also likely to result in some of the girls (on the opposing teams) getting hurt. There is a reason we have separate girls and boys teams for team sports and those reasons are still valid.
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