The Stanford misalignment

Fifth Circuit Judge Kyle Duncan was shouted down at Stanford Law School event sponsored by the Federalist Society chapter. The disruption of Judge Duncan’s remarks was supported at the event by Associate Dean of DEI Tirien Steinbach. Steve posted the audio here. Judge Duncan commented bluntly on his close encounter of the inclusion kind in remarks I posted here.

Now Ed Whelan reports that Stanford has issued an apology. Stanford’s apology is an apology of the mewling kind: “We write to apologize for the disruption of your recent speech at Stanford Law School. As has already been communicated to our community, what happened was inconsistent with our policies on free speech, and we are very sorry about the experience you had while visiting our campus.”

The apology continued in this vein with respect to unnamed “staff members who should have enforced university policies” but who “failed to do so, and instead intervened in inappropriate ways that are not aligned with the university’s commitment to free speech.” It was a rather severe case of misalignment.

Not surprisingly, Judge Duncan wonders about the consequences. He commented to Ed:

I appreciate receiving Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne’s and Stanford Law Dean Jenny Martinez’s written apology for the disruption of my speech at the law school. I am pleased to accept their apology.

I particularly appreciate the apology’s important acknowledgment that “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.” Particularly given the depth of the invective directed towards me by the protestors, the administrators’ behavior was completely at odds with the law school’s mission of training future members of the bench and bar.

I hope a similar apology is tendered to the persons in the Stanford law school community most harmed by the mob action: the members of the Federalist Society who graciously invited me to campus. Such an apology would also be a useful step towards restoring the law school’s broader commitment to the many, many students at Stanford who, while not members of the Federalist Society, nonetheless welcome robust debate on campus.

Finally, the apology promises to take steps to make sure this kind of disruption does not occur again. Given the disturbing nature of what happened, clearly concrete and comprehensive steps are necessary. I look forward to learning what measures Stanford plans to take to restore a culture of intellectual freedom.

Instructions to the the Federalist Society also seem misaligned with the Stanford’s “policies on free speech.” Aaron Sibarium reports at the Free Beacon:

Hours after Stanford University apologized to Fifth Circuit appellate judge Kyle Duncan for the disruption of his talk last week, administrators encouraged members of the law school’s Federalist Society chapter, which sponsored Duncan’s visit, to “reach out” to the same administrators—including the diversity dean—who aided and abetted the melee.

Leaders of the Stanford Federalist Society received an email Saturday night from acting associate dean of students Jeanne Merino, who stood by silently as students disrupted Duncan’s talk. Merino pointed them to “resources that you can use right now to support your safety and mental health”—and discouraged them from tweeting about the event “until this news cycle winds down.”

Among the resources Merino to which pointed them was Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Tirien Steinbach, who took the podium from Duncan to talk about the “harm” he’d caused—and whom Stanford condemned in its apology to Duncan, characterizing Steinbach’s intervention as “inappropriate.”

In addition to Steinbach, Merino listed herself, Associate Director of Student Affairs Holly Parrish, and Student Affairs Program Coordinator Megan Brown as possible sources of “support.” All three watched in silence as protesters accosted Duncan and berated their peers for inviting him.

Merino went on to discourage the Federalist Society from tweeting about the disruption “until this news cycle winds down,” stating that “trolls are looking for a fight.” That warning came after Stanford endured a brutal 24 hours on social media, with numerous lawyers—including Duncan himself—calling for Steinbach to be fired and the protesters punished.

Sibarium adds the usual nonresponse: “Merino did not respond to a request for comment.”

Students of ancient history may recall that the National Lawyers Guild is an old Communist front group. It should have wrapped things up with the fall of the Soviet Union. Like the post-polio March of Dimes, however, it marches on. The Stanford NLG chapter is stirring the pot. Its board members, which helped organize the protest, praised “every single person” who disrupted Duncan, characterizing the protesters’ conduct as “Stanford Law School at its best.” Everything old is new again.

Sibarium adds the usual nonresponse: “The group—whose board of directors includes Nathan Tauger, David Cremins, Lily Bou, Mohit Mookim, Marin Callaway, Oona Cahill, Bella Cooper, Esau Ruiz, Kiran Chawla, Jacob Maddox, and Asher Morse—did not respond to a request for comment.”

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