By Ethan Montague
A Federal Appeals Court Judge, Kyle Duncan, appointed by then President Trump, was invited to speak at Stanford’s school of law, before being relentlessly heckled by both the school’s students and Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Before Duncan began his speech, Stanford Law students booed at the very mention of his name as the Stanford Federalist Society introduced him.
Once he began to speak, students shouted over him the entire time.
He requested an apology from the school and received one from Stanford Law Dean Jenny Martinez who released a public statement apologizing to him. Martinez then sent an email to the school’s law students stating that disrupting events by heckling or other means is in violation of school rules and the administration is not happy with what transpired. Neither the DEI Dean nor students were reprimanded, however.
Unhappy with the release of her email, the students covered Dean Martinez’s office with paper signs reading “Counter speech is free speech too” and “where is our apology?”
Duncan compared the protests to other traditionally liberal schools like Yale and Georgetown, who have recently protested a host of conservative speakers. Multiple judges across the country are refusing to hire students from some of these schools, believing they promote cancel culture and suppress free speech.
Duncan has spent much of his time since worrying about what this means for the future of law, and even put out a scathing statement insulting the students:
“This is one of the best law schools in the world. The students are the cream of the crop (9.1 Stanford Law acceptance rate). The future judges, senators, presidents, leaders of industry. And yet here is a mob of the best and brightest, shouting down a federal judge who’s been invited to campus, and thereby demonstrating that they don’t have the foggiest grasp of the basic concept of legal discourse: you have to meet reason with reason. Instead, their operating principle is: if I don’t like what you say or think, I will silence you. Unless those students undergo a radical change in their whole approach to argument or disagreement, they are unfit to be members of any bar.”
Conservative groups as a whole have been outraged over Judge Duncan’s treatment, with Stanford Republicans calling for Dean Steinbach’s firing.
Turning Point USA is a conservative group whose UT chapter is run by President Gabriella Zurlo. Zurlo said the event showed a liberal inability to listen to viewpoints they do not agree with.
“The issue lies with the fact that liberals often feel they are right and everyone who disagrees is wrong.” Zurlo stated, “These students are not simply practicing ‘their right to free speech,’ they are attempting to suppress any speech they disagree with.”
UT Campus Republican President Loki Fountain thought the incident showed a complete disregard for not only the first amendment but America as a whole.
“When you shout down like what happened in Stanford, all you’re showing is you’d rather live in an echo chamber of your own opinions.” Fountain continued, “Showing respect for dissenting viewpoints is essential to democracy but also just being an American. Really the essence of being an American.”
When Judge Duncan began to speak, the students verbally assaulted him, shouting out things like “we don’t like you,” something about him causing racism, “go home,” and a host of other insults.
Duncan continued to try to speak, before responding “the depth of contempt you are showing me” to the students as they yelled at him. It became much more difficult to hear both the students and Judge Duncan, leaving a significant portion of the speech unable to be deciphered while listening to the transcript.
After the yelling continued, Duncan then comments how “in this school, the inmates have gotten control of the asylum.” This led to a particularly loud response, and shortly after Duncan requested an administrator to help calm the situation. This led to DEI Dean Tirien Steinback, a former lawyer for the ACLU who ignored requests for comment, to give her own speech before Duncan was able to continue. Steinbach’s email is not listed on her page on Stanford’s website, it remains unclear if this was the case before the incident.
Steinbach appears to have prepared the speech, as she continually read off a piece of paper while she bashed Judge Duncan, referring to his judicial rulings as “harmful” and disenfranchising. When Duncan tried to respond to the comment about “disenfranchisement” the audience responded, yelling “let her finish! She’s speaking! Let her finish.”
Steinbach later appeared to question whether Duncan should even be allowed at the University asking “Is the juice worth the squeeze?” Duncan then asked what that meant to which Steinbach replied “Is it worth the pain that this causes and the division that this causes?”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis thinks DEI is the leading issue when it comes to how conservatives are treated on college campuses. He thought in some ways it sounds very harmless, but in reality is the opposite.
“Of course you want diversity, like diversity of viewpoints. Inclusion, making sure people from different walks of life are able to participate.” DeSantis continued, “But I think in reality what it’s been is anything but. I think it’s been used in the administrations to try to impose not diversity of thought but uniformity of thought. Instead of inclusion the people that dissent from this orthodoxy are actually excluded and marginalized.”
Eventually Steinbach finished and Judge Duncan was able to continue, although the heckling ebbed and flowed. After finishing his remarks Duncan then moved into the Q&A portion of the event. He later ended with “Thanks to the Federalist Society for inviting me. As for the rest of you people, whatever.” The speech is believed to have been cut short by 35 minutes and ended at 41 minutes long.