Law school DEI dean heckles federal judge speaker, laments freedom of speech: ‘Is this worth it?’

Stanford Law School snowflakes, upset over a federal judge speaking at an event hosted by the school’s Federalist Society, had their heckling endorsed by administrators as one associate dean peppered the guest with her own attacks that led him to suggest it was “a setup.”

U.S. Circuit Judge Kyle Duncan, from the New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, appeared Thursday at the California law school for an event titled, “The Fifth Circuit in Conversation with the Supreme Court: Covid, Guns, and Twitter.” However, after widely broadcasting their opposition to his appearance on campus over his “controversial” opinions, Duncan was unable to offer his prepared remarks because of the heckling from students, as captured on video by the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Rather than deescalating the crowd, when Duncan sought intervention from an administrator, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Tirien Steinbach joined the side of the hecklers, reading from a prepared statement of her own to lambast the judge appointed by then-President Donald Trump.

“I had to write something down because I am so uncomfortable up here. And I don’t say that for sympathy,” said Steinbach, the former chief program officer at the ACLU of Northern California. “I just say that I am deeply, deeply uncomfortable. I’m uncomfortable because this event is tearing at the fabric of this community that I care about, and I’m here to support.”

(Video: Vimeo)

Included in the opposition to Duncan was his decision in a 2020 sex offender case to not use the preferred pronouns of a man who wanted to be treated as a woman, also referring to the individual as “gender-dysphoric” instead of “transgender.”

As NBC reported at the time, the judge said “Congress has said nothing to prohibit courts from referring to litigants according to their biological sex, rather than according to their subjective gender identity,” adding that the “convention” has been a “courtesy.”

“I have to ask myself … is the juice worth the squeeze? Is this worth it?” Steinbach asked from behind the podium as she took over the event that, according to one student speaking with the Washington Free Beacon, had at least three other school administrators in attendance.

Duncan, who had been on Trump’s list for Supreme Court nominees to succeed the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before ultimately appointing Judge Amy Coney Barrett, went on to say at the gathering he had been “setup” before the associate dean replied, “It isn’t a setup. For many people in this law school who work here, who study here and live here, your advocacy, your opinions from the bench, land as absolute disenfranchisement of their rights.”

“Luckily they’re in a school where they can learn the advocacy skills to advocate for those changes,” she said after suggesting the university “might need to reconsider” its free speech policy. Steinbach went on to thank the hecklers for “protecting the free speech that we value here.”

Stanford Law School Dean Jenny Martinez issued her own statement pushing back on what the activist administrator had said, as well as the behavior toward Duncan, and said it was “not aligned with our institutional commitment to freedom of speech,” noting, “the school is reviewing what transpired.”

The incident was troubling enough to draw the attention of Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) who took to Twitter and wrote: “Unlike so many prior instances in which STUDENTS engage in this kind of mistreatment…this incident involved the ADMINISTRATION at Stanford. Do Stanford Law School graduates receive a guarantee that they will never have to appear before a judge who doesn’t share their views? No sane client would hire a lawyer who couldn’t handle a case assigned to a judge holding opposing viewpoints. If Stanford wants to produce graduates who are ill-equipped or even unwilling to handle cases assigned to judges with divergent viewpoints, Stanford’s treatment of Judge Duncan might well assist in that effort.”

Speaking to Free Beacon after the event, Duncan referred to the dean’s behavior as a “bizarre therapy session from hell.”

“If enough of these kids get into the legal profession,” he added, reminding of a similar occurrence a year earlier at Yale, “the rule of law will descend into barbarism.”

Near the end of the video, Duncan can be seen preparing to take questions from the crowd as some of the students filed out in protest.

Kevin Haggerty


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