Bravo, Judge Silberman

Yesterday I briefly noted Fifth Circuit Judge James Ho’s keynote remarks at the Federalist Society’s sixth annual Kentucky chapters conference. With a little work I was able to obtain a copy of Judge Ho’s remarks. I hope to revisit them with a few quotes from the text in the next day or two or three.

In my comments I referred to Senior D.C. Court of Appeals Judge Laurence Silberman as my beau ideal of judge. Today’s Wall Street Journal includes the text of Judge Silberman’s September 20 Constitution Day talk at Dartmouth College in defense of free speech (behind the Journal’s paywall). The Dartmouth Review’s Matthew Skrod reported on Judge Silberman’s talk here.

Dartmouth has posted video of the Constitution Day event on YouTube (below). Dartmouth posted the video with this capsule bio of Judge Silberman:

Judge Laurence Silberman was appointed United States Circuit Judge in October 1985 and took senior status on November 1, 2000. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom on June 19, 2008. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1957 and Harvard Law School in 1961. He served in the Army from 1957-1958. He has been a partner in law firms in Honolulu and Washington, D.C., as well as a banker in San Francisco. He served in government as an attorney in the National Labor Relations Board’s appellate section, Solicitor of the Department of Labor from 1969 to 1970, Undersecretary of Labor from 1970 to 1973, Deputy Attorney General of the United States from 1974 to 1975, and Ambassador to Yugoslavia from 1975 to 1977. From 1981 to 1985, he served as a member of the General Advisory Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament and the Department of Defense Policy Board. He was appointed by the Chief Justice to a term (1996 to 2003) as a member of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s Review Panel. He took a leave of absence from the bench to serve as Co-Chairman (2004 to 2005) of the President’s Intelligence Commission. He was an Adjunct Professor of Administrative Law at Georgetown University Law Center from 1987 to 1994 and in 1997 and 1999, at NYU from 1995 to 1996, and at Harvard in 1998. From 2003 to 2019 he taught at Georgetown University Law Center as a Distinguished Visitor from the Judiciary and was awarded the Charles Fahy Distinguished Adjunct Professor Award for the 2002–2003 academic year.

Judge Silberman was introduced by Rockefeller Center senior lecturer and policy fellow Charles Whelan. Judge Silberman’s talk runs about 25 minutes. It perfectly complements Judge Ho’s remarks and seems to me well worth the time.

Quotable quote: “I am shocked at the recent challenges to free speech in our academic institutions—particularly the Ivy League. For example, recently at Yale Law School, students attempted to stop, then drown out, a public dialogue between a conservative and a liberal lawyer. They were both supporting untrammeled political speech. The administration’s response was to vaguely gesture at the importance of free speech but also to celebrate “respect and inclusion”—whatever that means. The dean sent a letter calling the behavior “unacceptable,” but she did not so much as issue a slap on the wrist to the students who were hostile to free speech.”

One more: “A common thread of these incidents at Yale, Princeton, Harvard, U Penn and Dartmouth is that university authorities, in discouraging unfashionable speech, do not do so explicitly. Rather, they perform an ‘Ivy League Two Step.’ First, they pay lip service towards the value of free speech. Then they use alternative reasons as a pretext to shut down ‘objectionable’ speech. That, in some ways, is more dangerous than a frontal attack.”

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