A Remedy for Stanford Law School’s Free Speech Thugs; Complaints to Bar Admission Authorities About Student Disruptors
A Remedy For Free Speech Thugs
WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 15, 2023) – Those who value free speech at law schools should consider reporting law students who deliberately prevent guests from speaking – in clear violation of university rules – to bar admission authorities, suggests public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who has filed several successful bar complaints.
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He was reacting to the latest such violation and disruption which occurred when law students at Stanford Law School deliberately prevented federal appeals court Judge Kyle Duncan from speaking in response to an invitation from a student group.
Apparently the primary objection was not to what the judge was prepared to discuss, but rather that, in a decision Duncan wrote for the 5th Circuit denying permission for a convicted sex offender to change his name on a federal document to a feminine one, the judge refused to use the female pronoun which the pedophile preferred.
Since it appears that the school will not be disciplining any of the student offenders - especially since a high ranking law school dean apparently organized and led the shouting which prevented other students from hearing the invited speaker - the only effective remedy might be for law students and/or law faculty concerned about free speech to consider informing bar admission authorities of their actions.
As the law school admitted in a letter, the deliberate disruption of the invited speaker "was inconsistent with our policies on free speech," and "not aligned with our institutional commitment to freedom of speech."
Indeed Stanford's official written policy unequivocally states that "It is a violation of University policy for a member of the faculty, staff, or student body to: Prevent or disrupt the effective carrying out of a University function or approved activity, such as lectures, meetings, interviews, ceremonies, the conduct of University business in a University office, and public events."
So, although Stanford may refuse to discipline the offending students for deliberately shouting down an invited guest speaker, authorities charged with insuring that applicants for the bar possess the requisite character and fitness to be entrusted with the enormous powers which those admitted to the bar wield may well take a dim view of such conduct.
Protected Identify Harm System
As Judge Duncan himself explained after the incident, "If enough of these kids get into the legal profession," he said, "the rule of law will descend into barbarism."
If Stanford refuses to enforce its own free speech policy and discipline the student disruptors, the only effective remedy may be for other law students and/or law faculty who care about free speech to consider informing bar admission authorities of what they did.
And let bar authorities decide whether they are nevertheless fit to become lawyers - just as those who violated other school rules such as those concerning plagiarism or other forms of cheating, sexual harassment, stealing, etc. might likewise be reported.
A few such law students might be denied admission to the bar, at least for a while, and others will probably - at the very least - have their admission delayed by hearings and other proceedings, says Prof. Banzhaf, who has filed several successful bar complaints, and who notes that complaints may even be filed anonymously.
And Stanford can't be critical of anonymous complaints because it has established its own "Protected Identify Harm" system which encourages students to file anonymous complaints if they hear other students use words to which they object; presumably including words such as "American," "white paper," etc. which appeared on "The Stanford Guide to Acceptable Words."
The facts underlying the complaints should not be in issue, Banzhaf says, noting that there are many cell-phone video recordings showing which law students deliberately disrupted the judge's speech; recordings which could be mailed to bar authorities to document and support the complaint.
If no one is willing to actually file such complaints now after the fact, at the very least law students at Stanford - and at the many other law schools where similar free speech violations have occurred - should be put on notice that formal bar admission complaints may be filed in the future if similar violations occur, suggests Banzhaf.