Seattle Law Dean Apologizes For Scheduling A DACA Debate Featuring Conservative Viewpoints

downloadThere is a growing concern over the intolerance shown conservative students and groups on our campuses.  The latest such incident occurred at Seattle University School of Law where a debate was planned on immigration with both liberal and conservative views represented.  That would seem precisely the type of exchange that law schools relish. However, students protested that one of the sponsors was the conservative Federalist Society.  Over a couple hundred people signed a petition asking the school to cancel the Oct. 16th debate.  The debate was scheduled to be part of the school’s “Social Justice Monday” series and was co-hosted by the school’s Access to Justice Institute.   The law school eventually withdrew as a sponsor due to the protests from students.

Destinee Evers, a second-year law student, objected that “Our school does a lot of work in its recruitment and its programming trying to support students in marginalized communities . . . [and] we would be potentially supporting an event that would create dialogue that might make some of those students unsafe or unwelcome.”

Of course, dialogue is usually a positive thing. Indeed, it is what higher education seeks to foster, particularly between diametrically opposed views or values.  Some of us still believe that students should consider opposing views even when those views many cause them discomfort or displeasure.  Such exposure deepens one’s understanding of contemporary controversies and, yes, people of different backgrounds and values. This is why the University of Chicago has correctly informed its incoming students that they will not be protected from unpleasant or unwelcomed views.  Indeed, the university promised to foster such debates.

Federalist Society chapter president Thomas Reinhard has said that, after the petition, the law school’s ATJI withdrew as a sponsor for the debate. The law school has drawn the distinction that it never withdrew support for the debate since it is still allowed at the school as sponsored by an organization but ATJI has formally withdrawn as a sponsor.

annclark_smDean Annette Clark sent an email to students that said the school “miscalculated and erred” in its co-sponsorship.  He noted that the event will still be held but with only the Federalist Society as the sole sponsor.  Clark then took the Trump Administration to task for seeking to rescind DAVA and said that the Administration had

“generated great fear within vulnerable immigrant communities and has caused real harm, making discussions of immigration policy that include a conservative viewpoint even more painful and anxiety- and anger-producing for those individuals and families who are at risk (and for their allies). In other words, we should have taken into account the historical moment in which this program was going to be presented as a Social Justice Monday and what that would mean to marginalized individuals in our community.”

Clark added that “because Social Justice Mondays have traditionally been led by the voices of marginalized students, we should have included them in discussions about why we felt this program was appropriate to be under the auspices of a Social Justice Monday, and we should have reached a decision about its appropriateness together.”

The debate was supposed to include Tahmina Watson of Watson Immigration Law, Seattle, who later also withdrew from participation.  Nevertheless, the panel will now include Stuart Verdery of the Monument Policy Group and former counsel to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). He will be joined  by Matt Adams, Legal Director of Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, which provides legal services and advocacy on behalf of immigrants.  Notably, both Verdery and Adams support eventual citizenship for DACA recipients.

I fail to see the basis for the withdrawal of the sponsorship as well as the apology by Clark for the holding of a balanced debate on an issue for great national importance.  The debate reflects precisely the mission of higher education to encourage debates on issues that divide our country.  It is therefore troubling to read a dean apologizing for sponsoring an exchange of ideas and agreeing that the decision to “include a conservative viewpoint” causes “even more painful and anxiety- and anger-producing ” feelings among some students and families.”  Immigration is an area that is highly personal and at times painful for some.  We have a duty to approach the subject with respect and consideration for other members of our community. However, that does not mean silencing voices that some deem “anxiety- and anger-producing.”

What do you think?


48 thoughts on “Seattle Law Dean Apologizes For Scheduling A DACA Debate Featuring Conservative Viewpoints”

  1. Academia: anybody’s right to be heard except for native-born white American heterosexual Christians. Oh, and men, in general.

  2. Pop activism dovetails perfectly with our ‘round-the-clock jobs of self-promotion. As a consequence, framing serious political issues with hyper-moralistic language becomes more effective. It’s no coincidence that campus leftism broke into the mainstream in tandem with social media’s meteoric ascent.

  3. It seems that as long as the faculty and administrators allow these students (children) to set the agenda, determine the curriculum, etc then these behaviors will continue and escalate. I wonder if these faculty and administrators ever had children. Did they ever set limits and establish boundaries? Children cannot be in charge, they need boundaries and respect for parental laws. We know that the prefrontal cortex of a human brain, which is the rational part of the brain, is not fully developed and functional until about the mid twenties. Until this time, teens process information with the emotional parts of their brain. Anyone who has experienced the joy of raising one or more teenagers knows this. At one time colleges were considered “in loco parentis” or responsible for children in place of the parents. Is this no longer true? If still true, then the college is a lousy parent.

  4. Of course the students complained. Why would any future lawyer risk losing their future revenue stream by exposing their flawed arguments in a debate?

  5. A discussion of DACA is not really an “exchange of ideas”. Skilled, educated, immigrants have always been welcome. It is the poverty stricken, desperate, unskilled folks whose immigration is questioned.

  6. Advise you sons and daughters to NOT go to that so called law school. They do not know nuthin bout birthin babies.


    What’s interesting is that Seattle University hired this woman after she’d flamed out as law dean at St. Louis University. She resigned in a snit at St. Louis because she hadn’t been consulted about a plan to move the law school off campus. The university president replied that he hadn’t discussed the matter with her because he’d planned to fire her and her letter of resignation arrived 3 days before the meeting at which he’d planned to hand her a pink slip.

    1. From your link…..
      Biondi says, “Her emails…demonstrate a lack of a clear and comprehensive understanding of the duties and obligations, autonomy and authority, of a modern-day dean at a large and complex university.”

      Peter Principle in practice.

    2. While I agree with Justice Holmes, downthread, I’m not sure that things are quite as cut and dried, as SOT would have us believe.

      Thanks for the link/article, though, SOT. There are some interesting comments, like this one, including a number of positive ones about Annette Clark. She appears to have made a bone-headed decision in this case, but it’s possible that SOT isn’t giving us a clear picture.

      “Jacob • 5 years ago

      “As a SLU undergrad and Law School alum, I have been generally supportive of Biondi. I think he has done a lot of great things for the school. I have defended him to a lot of people, thinking that the good he has done has outweighed the bad decisions he has made.

      “I still think he has elevated the school from what it was when he became the president, but after reading Dean Clark’s letter, I believe his time should come to an end.

      “He has been President too long, is out of ideas, and as evidenced from the letter, is actually hurting the University now. He seems to be treating the University as his own fiefdom, where he can do whatever he wants, which is very unfortunate.

      “He needs to step down or be removed now. I plan on writing to the Board of Trustees letting them know my displeasure with how they have let things get out of control and that things need to change if they expect me to donate any more to the University, and I encourage all alumni to (sic) the same.”

      – with 35 upvotes

      Anyway, the comments are worth skimming, IMO.

      1. Anonymous, I read the comments, and agree they are very interesting WRT political backstory. It seems Dean Clark picked the wrong hill to die on.

  8. What do I think? I think you’re not acknowledging the reality of contemporary academe and legal education in particular:

    1. It’s primary purpose is to provide agreeable salaried employment for a certain sort of cadre.

    2. The claim to scholarship on the part of many decision-makers therein is spurious.

    3. A consequential purpose of higher education in our time (in the arts and sciences faculty and in selected occupational faculties devoted to law, teacher-training, and social work) is to replicate certain caste attitudes. These are not reasoned positions, but markers delineating in-groups and out-groups.

    4. You’ll notice the outcome of this kerfuffle is that no one represents immigration restriction as a policy option on this ‘panel’. Again, this is a caste attitude.

    5. It’s a reasonable wager that Destinee Evers has for the last half-dozen years or more been given positive feedback for being a mediocre student and obnoxious jerk. That’s contemporary academe at work.

    As we speak, the ratio of working practitioners to new entrants in most professional occupations clustered around 22.5. There are two big exceptions: clergy and lawyers. Large numbers of people attend divinity school or seminary with no intention of being f/t clergy. As for the legal profession, the ration of working practitioners to new entrants is 15. That strongly suggests that about 1/3 of the law schools in this country should close (or that extant law schools should cut their admissions by 1/3 and fire 1/3 of their faculty and staff). I can think of a candidate for destruction in the Pacific northwest.

  9. After this, the Berkeley riots to suppress free speech, and that creep of a barista who wanted to fornicate with Jesus, if the left coast succumbed to wild fires, earthquakes and their own god awful stupidity, would the rest of us care? Sodom and Gomorrah has nothing on Cali, Big Beaver, and the Everred State.

    1. She’s 58. She was in school almost continuously for 12 years (1977-89). She appears to have enrolled in law school after flaming out of a medical residency. She piled up degrees and honors but she’s spent almost no time as a working doctor or working lawyer and she has been, for about half the time she’s been employed on law faculties, been ensconced in administrative positions.

      1. “She appears to have enrolled in law school after flaming out of a medical residency.”

        A source?

        1. Her own published curriculum vita, which has her completing a medical degree in 1985 and enrolling in law school in 1986.

          1. So you’re just guessing about her “flaming out” of her residency.



            B.S., summa cum laude, Washington State University, 1981; Phi Beta Kappa

            M.D. with Honors, University of Washington School of Medicine, 1985

            J.D., summa cum laude, first in class, Seattle University School of Law, 1989

            Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society

            Glasgow Memorial Achievement Citation

            Eloise Baird Boldt Scholar

            Extern for Judge Eugene Wright, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

            Admitted to practice in Washington State

            1. You mean she gets a medical degree, works in a coffee shop for a year just for kicks, then enrolls in law school?

              I’m ‘guessing’ because I’m not playing at being naive for effect.

              1. Thanks for confirming. Any number of things could have happened but — in your cookie-cutter world — she must have “flamed out” of her residency.

                So. SOT is guessing.

                1. No, in my world where people don’t invest in four years of medical education in order to work in the legal profession.

                2. “What if I Don’t Want to Do a Residency?”


                  If after thinking it through thoroughly, you still decide that residency isn’t for you, you can pursue several options. It’s a good idea to complete at least 1 year of residency so that you can get a medical license. That way, if you ever decide to return to medicine, you will be in a better position if you already have a license.

                  A physician who doesn’t want to do clinical work has many other options. If you have a mind for business, you may want to consider getting an MBA (Master of Business Administration) and working in the administrative end of medicine. Alternately, you can get an MPH (Master of Public Health) and find work in public health. Careers in medical writing, informatics, engineering, and consulting are also possible.

                  Dr. Joseph Kim hosts an extensive Website about nonclinical medical jobs, including actual job opportunities as well as general guidance about pursuing a nonclinical career.

                  1. Ever read “The House of God” by Samuel Shem? It is a great take on what it takes to become a fully fledged doctor. A great read IMO but ridiculous what people have to go through. Just like the current 2 shift model for nurses. How many admins could function fully working 12+ hours straight? The hospitals save money by not moving to a three shift model. Now it’s up to the patients and their family and friends to be “medically literate” enough to ensure that mistakes are not made.

                    1. There’s a common theme here, but not one Elaine is willing to acknowledge. Clark thrives in classroom settings but not in other settings.

                      GoogleScholar lists 10 papers by her and no treatises. If you made use of a more granular source like Lexis-Nexis or Current Law Index or Index to Legal Periodicals, you might find a more extensive bibliography. Not sure.

                      Five of these papers were in the same low-rent periodical, the Seattle Journal of Social Justice. Three of the remainder were published more than twenty years ago. She’s placed one paper in the last 11 years (and none in any venue other than the low-rent publication at her own school). On her CV, she lists 7 papers in a venue other than ….Social Justice, the last issued in 2006

                      One utility of scholarship and publication is that it puts professors in a venue where they are not the smartest person in the room. That’s short-circuited in the legal world because law reviews are edited by law students. I suppose law professors have colloquia and symposia. She lists no panel discussions under ‘activity’ on her CV.

                      Her scholarly output is modest, and, in fact she appears to be more-or-less retired as a researcher.

                      Higher education is not well-equipped to address problems other than deficits of intellection and professional training. Hasn’t stopped faculty and administrators from fancying they should be social workers. (The virtue signaling goes all the way down).

                    2. Thanks for reminding me about Shem’s book, Autumn. I read it long, long ago. (Did you read “Mount Misery,” as well? If you liked “House of God”, I think you’d also like “Mount Misery.”

                      “From the Laws of Mount Misery:

                      “In psychiatry, first comes treatment, then comes diagnosis.

                      “What The House of God did for doctoring the body, Mount Misery does for doctoring the mind. A practicing psychiatrist, Samuel Shem brings vivid authenticity and extraordinary storytelling gifts to this long-awaited sequel, to create a novel that is laugh-out-loud hilarious, terrifying, and provocative. Filled with biting irony and a wonderful sense of the absurd, Mount Misery tells you everything you’ll never learn in therapy. And it’s a hell of a lot funnier.”


                      You might also enjoy this article by Shem, if you haven’t already see it.


                      “Some have said that The House of God is cynical. And yet in rereading, it has a constant message that I was dimly conscious of in writing: being with the patient. In the words of the hero of the novel, the Fat Man, “I make them feel that they’re still part of life, part of some grand nutty scheme, instead of alone with their diseases. With me, they still feel part of the human race.” And as the narrator Roy Basch realized, “What these patients wanted was what anyone wanted: the hand in their hand, the sense that their doctor could care.””

  10. I fail to see why the Dean doesn’t recognize that conservative students are a minority on his campus and he is a pu**y. My God, what happened to the backbone of college administrators? Did it all get used up in the 1960s? Was it replaced by the spine of jellyfish? With that kind of attitude what are they actually teaching in the law school there and how did they get accredited? Or stay accredited?

    1. She’s not an antagonist of the complaining students. They’re useful for her purposes.

  11. Perhaps these students realized that if they could ban half the participants they would receive twice the participation trophies.

  12. re: ” It is therefore troubling to read a dean apologizing for sponsoring an exchange of ideas and agreeing that the decision to “include a conservative viewpoint” causes “even more painful and anxiety- and anger-producing ” feelings among some students and families.”

    This is pathetic – a dean of a law school caving to one dimensional POVs. Debate is healthy as is exposure to different ideas. As y’all know I lean Left on most issues, but I read and listen to conservative/Libertarian POVs as well. Who wants to live in a bubble? One of my oldest friends is a staunch Christian Right Republican and we have had many discussions over the years which have broadened my perspective immensely. How can we begin to understand or relate to other people if we refuse to listen?

  13. The law school has again “erred”. One cannot have a debate without opposing views. One cannot have free speech without the support and protection of views with which one disagrees. Lawyers will not win cases unless they learn to debate, discuss and argue all sides of every question. It is apppalling to me that a law dean would crater to such pressure and offer nothing but cringe worthy excuses instead of a defense of full out debate of the issues.

    As to social justice being the province of “minority or marginalized” students, everyone deserves social justice and ti should be an issue in which we are all interested and involved.

    1. Saying that it’s a debate between liberal and conservative views is nonsensical. The issue is: should
      the U.S. favor business profits (from illegal immigrants) over the costs to citizens of open borders.

  14. The DACA discussion is moot.

    DACA is unconstitutional per the “manifest tenor” of the Constitution.

    The genesis of DACA was a high criminal act of abuse of power by its creator, Obama.

    Furtherance of DACA makes any and all participants complicit.

    Usurpation of the power of the legislative branch by the executive must have resulted in impeachment and

    conviction, and denial by a dutiful, objective and jurisprudential Supreme Court.

    By Stephen Dinan – The Washington Times – Tuesday, December 16, 2014

    “Judge Arthur J. Schwab, sitting in the Western District of Pennsylvania, said Mr. Obama has some discretion in how to enforce laws, but by setting out a comprehensive system to grant tentative legal status to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants, the president has strayed into trying to write the laws, which is a power reserved for Congress.”

    “[A] limited Constitution … can be preserved in practice no other way than through the medium of courts of justice, whose duty it must be to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void. Without this, all the reservations of particular rights or privileges would amount to nothing … To deny this would be to affirm … that men acting by virtue of powers may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid.”

    – Alexander Hamilton

    1. I wonder if you feel the same way about the avalanche of Trump issued executive orders and the actions of this administration to virtually gut laws passed by congress.

      1. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Did you exaggerate this loudly when Oilybomber was cranking out EOs and selectively enforcing laws?

      2. I very much appreciate your concession and deflection by way of subject change. Incidentally, your bias is showing. Do you oppose President Donald J. Trump because your entitlements are threatened or because your persistence requires the artifice of “Affirmative Action Privilege?”

    2. The discussion is not moot because “DACA” has come to refer not only to the program established by Obama’s executive order, but also to current efforts to replace it with a proper law passed by Congress. In that context it is anything but moot.

      1. DACA was illicitly established by an executive order of the eminently ineligible Barry Soetoro.

        DACA was declared unconstitutional as “executive overreach” and usurpation of the authority of the legislative branch by Judge Arthur J. Schwab.

        Speculation about legislation that may be introduced in the future is just that and only that, speculation.

        To wit,

        Wiki –

        The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was an American immigration policy that allowed some individuals who entered the country as minors, and had either entered or remained in the country illegally, to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and to be eligible for a work permit. As of 2017, approximately 800,000 individuals—referred to as Dreamers after the DREAM Act bill—were enrolled in the program created by DACA. The policy was established by the Obama administration in June 2012 and rescinded by the Trump administration in September 2017.[1]

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