Yale Law Students Sue Over Alleged “Blackballing” For Supporting Law Professor

We have often discussed how dissenting faculty and students are increasingly subjected to retaliation for the exercise of free speech or free association on campuses.  In many cases, such treatment involves shunning or blackballing by school administrators to prevent professors or students from participating in programs. That is the complaint by two law students (identified only as John Doe and Jane Doe) who allege that they were blackballed for supporting Professor Amy Chua, who was previously discussed as embroiled in a controversy at the school after she defended Justice Brett Kavanaugh.  The students make some shocking allegations against the Yale Dean and other administration officials.

In addition to Yale Law School, the students are suing Yale Law School’s Dean Heather Gerken and its Associate Dean Ellen Cosgrove, and the Director of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Yaseen Eldik.

The use of the anonymous filing is interesting since the students claim that they were retaliated against by the law school, including being identified in a mysterious “dossier” circulated around the school. The anonymity would appear to protect them from the retaliation of lawyers and firms for bringing allegations against the school. John Doe is described as African American and Jane Doe is described as Asian American. They are seeking damages of not less than $150,000.

The complaint states that, because Yale does not use traditional grading (in favor of Honors, Pass, and Low Pass marks), there is intense competition for students to find other ways to distinguish themselves in the absence of a GPA: “While this system protects what would otherwise be the bottom half of a law school class, it makes competition tight for its more traditionally ambitious students, who often seek competitive federal clerkships or other government jobs, whose limited availability and competitive nature are considered highly prestigious and desirable.” One of the most sought after positions are “Coker Fellows” who work as teaching assistants.

The students say that Gerken was publicly critical of Chua for her defense of Kavanaugh and claim that she led an effort to gather derogatory information on Chua from students, faculty, and staff. Students were allegedly instructed to send such information to Cosgrove.

The two students met with Chua to discuss what they viewed as intolerance or unequal treatment for students of color. John Doe had resigned recently from Yale Law Journal over such complaints.  The students met with Chua at her house and then things allegedly got rather bizarre:

“Unbeknownst to Jane or John at the time, these two meetings somehow
became the subject of pernicious law school gossip. One of their classmates went so far as to compile a bizarre 20-page document, the Dossier (Ex. A), that purported to document the “secret dinner parties” that Chua was supposedly hosting with John, Jane, and unidentified federal judges.”

What follows are extremely serious and shocking allegations:

49. Jane and John became aware of the Dossier in late April 2021, when it had begun to circulate among the Yale Law School student body.

50. Shortly thereafter, beginning on April 23, 2021, Cosgrove and Eldik contacted Jane and John concerning the Dossier. However, they were not investigating the fact that a Yale Law School student was circulating such a document for an apparent harassing purpose, or even investigating the allegations made in the Dossier.

51. Instead, Cosgrove and Eldik pressured Jane and John to make a formal statement confirming the allegations against, and lodge their own formal complaint, against Chua.

52. Despite Jane and John repeatedly denying the Dossier’s assertions, Cosgrove and Eldik pressured Jane and John to make such a statement, even calling them on a daily basis over the course of a week in April 2021, insisting that Jane and John had a “moral obligation” to “future generations of students” to make the false statements against Chua.

53. Cosgrove and Eldik also made references to Jane of the “effort against Professor Chua” and insisted that if Jane would “just give them” a statement, they would have “enough” against Chua.

54. During the course of this week, Jane and John consistently refused to make false statements, and instead repeatedly asked Cosgrove and Eldik for assistance against the troubling invasion of privacy and resulting harassment that they suffered.

55. Cosgrove and Eldik ignored these requests to help and discouraged Jane and John from filing a formal complaint concerning the harm the Dossier and its creator had caused Jane and John.

56. Instead, Cosgrove and Eldik ratcheted up the pressure. On a joint call including Cosgrove, Eldik, and Jane, Eldik told Jane that the Dossier would likely end up in “every judges’ chambers,” “following [her] even after [she] graduates,” effectively sabotaging any hopes of her securing a clerkship whether she applied now or in the future.

57. In a joint call including Cosgrove, Eldik, and John, Eldik and Cosgrove strongly suggested that John should not apply for a clerkship in the summer of 2021 because of the Dossier’s wide publicity.

58. It was suggested that, for these reasons, Jane and John should cooperate by making a statement against Professor Chua.

59. Cosgrove also directly threatened Jane, claiming that Yale Law School was receiving complaints about her potentially serving as a Coker Fellow due to the Dossier, and further suggested that such complaints would be moot if Jane made a statement against Chua.

60. That threat having no effect, Cosgrove became more direct, telling Jane that if Jane accepted a Coker Fellowship with the professor—despite Jane’s repeated denials that she had received an illicit offer from the professor—Cosgrove or another member of the Yale Law School administration would approach the professor with the allegations.

What follows is much of the same as the students detail allegedly direct action to block them from opportunities like the Coker Fellowships.  What is most notable is that some of these allegations involve third parties, including a professor who was allegedly encouraged to reject the two Does for the fellowships. That means that this professor is likely to be called as a witness in depositions and any trial if the case survives a motion to dismiss. However, in ruling on such a motion, the court must assume all facts in favor of the students.

They allege a mix of contractual and tort claims: Cause of Action 1 (Breach of Contract), Cause of Action 2 (Promissory Estoppel), Cause of Action 3 (Intentional Interference With Prospective Business Relationships), Cause of Action 4 (Defamation), Cause of Action 5 (Unreasonable Publicity), Cause of Action 6 (False Light), and Cause of Action 7 (Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress).



33 thoughts on “Yale Law Students Sue Over Alleged “Blackballing” For Supporting Law Professor”

  1. For a law school, there doesn’t seem to be much concern about justice or honesty.

    Now that Yale has done away with GPA, its prestige will degrade. As the blog post noted, the highest achievers will become more desperate and vicious in the fight to differentiate themselves, when under a GPA system, they could have just studied and networked.

    1. Karen,

      Just having a Yale law degree means you can write your ticket at any law firm in the country.

        1. Thanks Paul. The same to you and yours. Hope you are doing well and will make a killing on your gaming!

          1. Had my best week of the year 2 weeks ago. Just ok this past week. I really should not bet college. Way better in the pros.

  2. Jonathan: Ho Hum. Another case, this one at Yale Law School, involving allegations that “students are increasingly (?) subjected to retaliation for the exercise of free speech or free association on campuses”—that involves “blackballing” to “prevent professors and students from participating in programs”. Now if you want to talk about violations of free speech and association you should be directing your attention to a more egregious case at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) that gives a whole new meaning to “blackballing”.

    Back in March Arluan Van Hook, a Black student at SIUE, pledged Kappa Sigma Fraternity (a mostly white fraternity). Shortly thereafter Van Hook began receiving threats, racist jokes, the use of the N-word from white members of the fraternity. Van Hook was told: “All African Americans are on welfare”. After enduring months of racial slurs Van Hook gave up and moved back in with his parents. Because of the threats Van Hook was provided with a police escort to and from campus. He reported this racial abuse to SIUE but no disciplinary action was taken. Kappa Sigma says it has “suspended” 6 members of the fraternity. According to the student conduct handbook an investigation is to occur within 20 days. It wasn’t. Van Hook thinks this is because “my concerns as an African American student on campus weren’t valued”. When his friends suggested he transfer to another school Van Hook said: “I’m not going to run away. I don’t want another student who goes to this university to have to endure this just because they joined a Caucasian fraternity”.

    Van Hook endured months of racial harassment and violations of his free speech and free association rights. So where were you when Van Hook needed your help and attention? AWOL. When are you going to show some semblance of balance and objectivity in your posts?

  3. Wrong think persecution.

    “It is impossible for me to think that the classical Christian views and the doctrine of the majority of denominations would become illegal. The question here is about the core of Christian faith; how a person gets saved into unity with God and into everlasting life though the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus. Therefore, it is crucial to also talk about the nature of sin,” Rasanen told Dreher. “As we are living in a democratic country, we must be able to disagree and express our disagreement. We have to be able to cope with speech that we feel insults our feelings. Many questions are so debatable and contradictory that we have to have the possibility of discussing. Otherwise the development is towards a totalitarian system, with only one correct view.”

  4. Wow, the woke are using coercion to lie in their playbook. All you have to do is to sign this confession and you will receive more rations in the future good comrade. The next time they call other people fascists we can all throw up in unison. Ready, on the count of three. Barf bags at the ready. One, two, three.

  5. The actions of Gerken, Cosgrove, and Eldik show that “Equity, Diversity & Inclusion” is merely a front for the suppression of speech. Like the Chinese communists, the Soviets, and the Nazis, these people care nothing for the concepts of equity and diversity, but more about imposing a dictatorial system of thought on everyone else. Struggle session, anyone?

  6. Right now the US is ranked something like 23rd in the world for educating its children. So these kids go on to college. On the college campuses most of the top tier students come from where? Most likely they are not home grown. We haven’t been rated number one in educating our kids since the 1950s.

    1. Many are still homegrown. But, there is a great divide in who will probably get a great education and who probably won’t.

      Test scores and data mining are poor metrics for discerning knowledge, observational skills, and the ability to play with ideas. Education is being degraded into just what can be easily measured for far too many kids.

      1. Hi Prairie Rose,

        I don’t know what Independent Bob is driving at. There is a reason that the world’s elite send their children to elite colleges here. And the schools accept them because they don’t require a scholarship. They can pay in full.

        Of course, the Right wants more Conservative professors. Turley seems to think that they are being denied jobs at these elite liberal universities. However, Conservative professors will land a job at some college if not the one they had in mind. Conservative parents can send their children to schools which have a majority of Conservative professors, e.g., Hillsdale College. It’s true that a Hillsdale diploma will not get a graduate very far in New York or San Francisco, but a Conservative would not be caught dead in those Liberal cesspools!

        A Hillsdale degree will serve one well in Real America, e.g., Indianapolis, Fayetteville, Toledo, etc.

        1. Jeff,
          “It’s true that a Hillsdale diploma will not get a graduate very far in New York or San Francisco”

          Why not? It is a good school that provides a solid education. Surely New York and San Fransisco would want to attract knowledgeable, articulate, thinking people.

          1. I don’t think a Hillsdale diploma can compete with Stanford or the Ivy Leagues in the big metropolitan cities. Corporations in those cities want the cream of the crop.

            Hillsdale’s acceptance rate is 36%. Stanford’s is 4%.

            1. Jeff,
              “I don’t think a Hillsdale diploma can compete with Stanford or the Ivy Leagues in the big metropolitan cities.”

              Why not?

              “Corporations in those cities want the cream of the crop.”

              I can understand wanting the cream of the crop, but the Ivy Leagues do not necessarily have a monopoly on “cream of the crop”.

              “Hillsdale’s acceptance rate is 36%. Stanford’s is 4%.”

              Too much might be made of acceptance rates. Will Hunting quipped he got himself an equivalent education as an Ivy Leaguer for only a $1.40 in library fines. 😉

  7. “The complaint states that, because Yale does not use traditional grading (in favor of Honors, Pass, and Low Pass marks), there is intense competition for students to find other ways to distinguish themselves in the absence of a GPA: “While this system protects what would otherwise be the bottom half of a law school class”

    So if true Yale graduates attorneys with as much skill as Benny’s Ambulance Chasing University of Law? Here I thought they ranked with Rhadamanthys.

  8. “. . . the Dossier would likely end up in every judges’ chambers . . .”

    What is it with the Left and their Soviet-style “dossiers?” Do they think that the word “dossier” gives a veneer of respectability to their lies and manipulations? Oh, no — there’s a “dossier.”

    Toe the line or we will destroy you with our “dossier.” They are vile creatures.

      1. After all, Sam, Jews are disproportionately Liberal so it’s a good fit, right?

      2. You don’t think human beings are creatures? What are they, then? Regardless of your answer to that, it is vile to raise Nazi/Holocaust analogies over an argument or phrase in what is supposed to be a rational discussion. As a survivor of the Shoah, I strongly object to your doing that, Mr. Silberman.

        1. Anonymous,

          First, you are not a survivor of the Shoah. How old are you?

          Second, a Trumpist calling Leftists “vile creatures” is tantamount to a Nazi calling Jews “vermin.”

          It is hardly rational to call ANYONE a vile creature! You would know that were you actually a victim of Nazism.

          1. “. . . calling Leftists [who use Soviet-style tactics] ‘vile creatures'” . . .

            You have perfected the dishonest tactic of eliding a person’s arguments and quotes.

  9. John & Jane Doe could have gotten backup from former attorney Michael Avenatti.

    But Avenatti got busted for milking Stormy Daniels & trying to shake down Nike.

    Before Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed, Avenatti introduced a written declaration in September 2018 accusing Kavanaugh of spiking drinks at parties for the purpose of allowing girls to be gang raped when he was in high school. The accuser Julie Swetnick later repudiated the declaration in an interview with NBC News, claiming Avenatti had misrepresented her allegations.

  10. “Director of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Ya seen El dik” Really? Is they related to Nosmo King or any of the many rude names that periodically are planted in lists to be read aloud by the unsuspecting? As the old saying goes, pull the other one it’s got bells on.

  11. It seems to me that Administrator Eldik is not doing a very good job in promoting diversity and inclusion. Good luck to the Does

    1. Some of the same characters and tactics as occurred in the effort to compel an apology from a YLS student for an email invitation that inadvertently was said to have caused offence.

  12. Yale. Is pale. Beyond the pale. If you go to school there fart first but don’t speak

    1. This is not new. Way back in the 1950’s Yale had the same reputation. Harvard less so.

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