March 14th, 2023 2 Minute Read Press Release

MI Responds: Stanford Law School protests against Judge Kyle Duncan

New York, NY – The Manhattan Institute's director of constitutional studies Ilya Shapiro responds to the Stanford Law School protests against Judge Kyle Duncan's campus talk:

"The Stanford incident exemplifies the illiberal takeover of legal education—and may well be the worst attack on free speech we’ve seen yet. Not because the disrupted speech featured a federal judge, but because one law school official encouraged and participated in the protest while another, instead of enforcing school policy, meekly advised the mob to 'heckle slightly less' (which had the opposite effect). Of course it would be the DEI dean—a former ACLU executive—who commandeered the student event to start berating the judge about the supposed 'harm' he’s caused (with his standard conservative jurisprudence). Is it any surprise that law students act in an immature and unprofessional manner if administrators validate and goad them? 

"It's nice that Stanford’s president and the law school dean apologized to Judge Duncan, but actions speak louder than words. Instructing Federalist Society members who needed support to reach out to the very dean who enflamed the childish mob was particularly rich.

"This sort of thing will only continue—and get worse—unless educational leaders (1) enforce existing policies against heckler’s vetoes by disciplining those who violate them, (2) instill a culture of free speech, toleration, and civil discourse, (3) stop indoctrinating and self-selecting via diversity statements and trainings, and (4) actively push back on the illiberal ideas that speech is violence and disagreements about public policy and legal interpretation are Manichaean battles between good and evil. But very few of them will do it of their own volition, so they have to be forced to do so through public shaming and other exogenous shocks, as well as legislation."

- Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow and director of constitutional studies at the Manhattan Institute. He is the co-author of "Abolish DEI Bureaucracies and Restore Colorblind Equality in Public Universities" and writes regularly on his Substack, Shapiro's Gavel. 

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