“Welcome Consequences”: Hogan Lovells Fires Partner for Voicing Her Views on the Dobbs Decision

In a column in the Wall Street Journal, Robin Keller, a partner at Hogan Lovells, wrote about being fired from the firm after a distinguished career of 44 years. Keller was not fired for intermingling funds or violating confidentiality of clients. She was fired because she exercised free speech in an internal meeting on the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. After Keller expressed her support for the opinion and concern about higher rates of abortions in the black community, a participant complained that she could not breathe and others called her a racist. She was later suspended and reportedly fired.

What is striking about this controversy is that there is not a great deal of disagreement on what was said at the meeting. Take Above the Law, which Keller references in her column. The site has become one of the most vocal anti-free speech sites on the Internet. It recently even defended the virtual elimination of conservative and libertarian faculty at universities as commendable.

In a column entitled “White Counsel At Biglaw Firm Spreads ‘Inappropriate And Offensive’ Theories About Abortion, Gets Suspended,” Kathryn Rubino celebrated the “welcome consequences” for people who share dissenting or unpopular views on such subjects. Rubino expressed disbelief that “a white partner who attended HoLove’s women’s meeting felt it appropriate to chime in with her support of the Dobbs decision.”

Lawyers at the firm demanded the firing of Keller and said that they were “traumatized” by having to hear someone defend the decision on a call to allow people to discuss the decision.

Let’s repeat that again . . . these are lawyers who were traumatized because a colleague expressed a dissenting view of abortion, a view held by millions of other Americans as well as many judges and justices. It is a view that has been expressed widely in the media, including by African-American and female commentators.

I can understand how such arguments can insult or enrage others. Pro-life lawyers can also be deeply offended on the other side by pro-choice arguments. Abortion is an area that has torn apart this country for generations. The addition of race only magnifies the passion and anger in such discussions. However, this is an area that raises difficult constitutional, social, racial, economic, and gender issues.

Yet, rather than engage Keller on why they believe that she is wrong, these lawyers asked her to leave the call and then pushed for her to be fired for expressing her views. As we have seen on college campuses, it has become commonplace to seek to silence others rather than to engage them in such debates.

As Keller wrote, “I was invited to participate in what was billed as a ‘safe space’ for women at the firm to discuss the decision. It might have been a safe space for some, but it wasn’t safe for me.”

She recounts how “Three weeks later I received a letter stating that the firm had concluded that my reference to comments labeling black abortion rates genocide was a violation of the antiharassment policy.”

The firm adopted the usual “we support free speech but …” rationalization:

“Firm leaders promptly reached out to the firm community to express their regret about the pain and upset that this has caused our community. We appreciate that this was brought to our attention and we are treating this matter seriously. While we encourage members of our community to engage in frank, candid discussion, we expect all discussion in our place of work, or in settings sponsored by the firm, to uphold our values of inclusivity, respect for diverse members of our community, and non-discrimination.”

We have seen corporations joining a campaign targeting Twitter over the plan of Elon Musk to restore free speech protections on the site. However, this is a law firm yielding to demands to silence a colleague for expressing a dissenting view on Dobbs and the impact of abortion in an internal meeting on the decision. To state opposing views in a forum on the case is now considered harmful and harassing — and a basis for termination.

That is certainly a “consequence” but it is hardly “welcomed” if you have a modicum of concern for free speech values. Private firms and companies are obviously given a wider leeway in the limitation of free speech rights. As I have previously written, workers do not have a legal right to protest or display political symbols in the workplace.

For years, anti-free-speech figures have dismissed objections to social media censorship by stressing that the First Amendment applies only to the government, not private companies. The distinction was always a dishonest effort to evade the implications of speech controls, whether implemented by the government or corporations. The First Amendment was never the exclusive definition of free speech. Free speech is viewed by many of us as a human right; the First Amendment only deals with one source for limiting it. Free speech can be undermined by private corporations as well as government agencies.

Yet, we have seen reporters and lawyers rally to the cause of censorship or speech controls in recent years. It is the subject of my recent publication in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. The article entitled “Harm and Hegemony: The Decline of Free Speech in the United States.

That alarming trend is no more evident than lawyers saying that they “cannot breathe” in the presence of the exercise of free speech.

 

125 thoughts on ““Welcome Consequences”: Hogan Lovells Fires Partner for Voicing Her Views on the Dobbs Decision”

      1. Being largely deaf has it’s benefits. And over taken by blindness I’ll just have to avert my eyes in a timely manner. lol

        Hi David;)

      2. Typo:

        Oky1 says:
        December 1, 2022 at 7:36 PM

        Being largely deaf has it’s benefits. And “Until Completely” over taken by blindness I’ll just have to avert my eyes in a timely manner. lol

  1. “… a participant complained that she could not breathe and others called her a racist.”

    Time to get real.

    A female is charging that she could not breathe when confronted by an opposing viewpoint.

    A study from not long ago found that liberals are three times as likely to have been treated for mental illness. You blend in the propensity toward mental illness among the Left together with a clutch of female do-gooding society-changers in a law firm and you’re gonna get hyper reactive results. The sky is falling and “Wolf” is cried. Of course they don’t want to listen to what the other side has to say. They’re psychologically imbalanced and auto-programmed toward whacked out.

  2. Absurd reaction. The ability to hear both sides is the very heart of practicing law.
    It’s a litmus test for who should have a law license.

  3. Tyranny of the majority on full display.
    Those who “could not breathe” on hearing a reasoned view point are kakistocratic examples of rot within that law firm.
    She is well out of it, though I would sue the mob-rule, “hang em high” racist bigots just to get them in court and FORCE them to listen to legal arguments that show just how WRONG HEADED they are.
    Maybe they are suffering from brain fog following their fourth C19 mRNA shot.

  4. More proof that the middle age women in our society are the root of the problem.
    We never should have allowed them to vote and to take over professional professions.
    They’re simply not capable

    1. The U.S. Constitution says that any issue not covered under the Constitution should be addressed by the individual States. That is exactly what the current SC did, put the decision of the legalities of Abortions (also known as Baby Killing) in the hands of the States.

  5. I think what’s most concerning about this episode is how HL fell back on the “anti-harassment policy violation” justification as a necessity for firing her. Any time a big business invokes their anti-harassment or anti-discrimination policies, they’re falling back on the excuse that they are taking the action they’re taking because they’re worried about a civil rights suit. Maybe it’s a pretext, but the pretext wouldn’t be viable absent the expansive construction of Title VII given the current state of that law. I don’t know what the point of hosting a “safe space” to discuss a controversial legal decision is, especially for a law firm, if your plan is to treat anything that goes against the grain during such discussion as having dire legal consequences for the firm.

  6. It is amazing that attorneys at a firm like Hogan Lovells “cannot breathe” when someone expresses a view on a legal issue that opposes their own. I thought that was what the adversarial system was all about?

    1. It was neither politics or religion but blame the victim anyway. The topic was a legal one being discussed by so called legal professionals who are anything but professional.

  7. I’ve been stating the following for for some time and as the years click by more individuals from all types of professions are starting to agree. That is, the US will break apart along ideological lines, more than likely the same geographic lines during the Civil War years. As far as the states that formed after the Civil War, they’ll have to decide. Maybe it will split into more than two sides, who knows. The bottom line is the country is far too gone and divided. We simply can no longer tolerate each other. As wise Benjamin Franklin stated to an acquisitive woman during the countries formation on what type of government had been decided, he stated—a republic, if we can keep it. Well at this point we can no longer keep it. It is over.

    1. >traumatized
      >cannot breathe

      Could it be possible that many of the Hogan Lovell female attorneys are so mentally fragile that they need to be remanded into the custody of state mental health officials?

  8. Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Antonin Scalia were apparently able to be good friends despite obviously deep philosophical differences, but those who disagreed with Dobbs “couldn’t breathe” when faced with an opposing viewpoint. In the past, it has generally been accepted that the answer to objectionable speech is more speech. Now it’s “shut up.” I fear for the future of my profession.

  9. Here’s an excerpt from “Above the Law”. explaining the reason for the firing. “A white partner who attended HoLove’s women’s meeting felt it appropriate to chime in with her support of the Dobbs decision. As a tipster at the firm described it, “Robin Keller, in front of nearly 400 women, shared her views that Dobbs was rightly decided and that Black women are disproportionately getting abortions and conducting ‘Black genocide’ which she finds ‘tragic.’” Yikes.

    Another tipster described it as “spouting out racial vitriol about Black women abortions being a genocide that luckily Dobbs stops.” According to accounts, another partner “eloquently shut her down to the ground,” and asked Keller to leave the call. But, tipsters report that wasn’t the end of the screed, as Keller “wrote in the Zoom chat that we should channel our ‘rage’ into understanding other people’s point of view.”

    Reaction to the incident from insiders at the firm reflects how troubling it was. One person described being “traumatized and hurt,” saying, “It was unreal.” Another was more blunt: “A woman needs to be fired.”

    Now she’s taking a page from Paul Clement’s book and crying in the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal that HoLove “kowtowed to a woke faction inside its workforce” when she was let go from her job following an internal investigation.

    Yes, the firm hired outside counsel to conduct an investigation, a process Keller says she participated in, and found her comments in violation of the firm’s anti-harassment policy. But Keller would rather gin up the disingenuous rallying cry of twisted First Amendment talking points than take any personal responsibility for what she said.

    Keller’s comments were not dry support for an esoteric point of law. She specifically blamed Black women for GENOCIDE. It should not be shocking that this is considered inappropriate in the workplace.”

    So, Turley’s spin is just that: spin. Consider the context, too: he’s a paid Fox pundit. Fox loves to stir the culture wars, one theme of which is that the evil “woke” people are taking away people’s rights. The person who was “traumatized and hurt” felt this way because Keller was blaming black women for being guilty of black GENOCIDE. There’s more context, too: half of the deaths of pregnant black women who die during pregnancy are due to botched abortion efforts. Keller’s comment was found to violate the firm’s policies. So, she wasn’t fired for exercising her First Amendment rights at all. For example: she might have had a First Amendment right to call blacks the “N” word, but she could and should be fired for doing so. Claiming that black women who exercise the right to abortion are engaging in black genocide is just as offensive.

    1. Claiming that abortion is “genocide” is simply part of the histrionic language that is commonly used these days to try to make a point. Nobody takes it literally. This woman was fired because she expressed an opinion that the liberals disagreed with. She should sue the firm.

      1. It is but sadly the society has lost it’s soul. Your party and mindset, loves death. Assisted suicide, promoting killing yourself and make sure you don’t propagate beforehand. I am sickened by your lack of humanity. How you think it is ok to murder a live birth is as evil as Hitler and you are a poster boy.

    2. Gigi, you took an extremely long road to reach a completely false conclusion. Prior to the Supreme Court’s recent decision, which the Liberals alleged to be the worst decision ever and used to advance and support their twisted political agenda, “Row v. Wade” existed for approximately 50 years. For the record, during those 50 years, people who supported “Pro Life” and those who supported “Pro Choice” may have disagreed but they were able, in most cases, to discuss and, yes, even argue their differences. But, these differences, in most cases, did not preclude friendships or social relationships. So, what would you imagine was different during the preceding 50 years vs, now? The largest difference is that now the “Left” has sold this part of its rhetoric to a great number of those who, unfortunately, have yet been unable to understand what is happening to them and how the government and media has successfully forced false thoughts and beliefs into their minds. We can only hope that these unfortunates will eventually realize the truth and will, once again, resort to discussion instead of attack. In the alternative, our Country, as we have known it, is gone.

  10. Good Lord. These are attorneys who are supposed to know and be able to argue the law. U.S. Supreme Court opinions are the law of the land. And an attorney who expresses support for a Supreme Court opinion is fired? That’s just insane. Are the attorneys who were offended by her opinion going to just ignore laws that offend them? Why on earth would anyone hire these attorneys to do anything? These people should not be practicing law.

    1. Mary, ya’all are great!

      Can we get rid of affirmative action now or do ya’all still need it out of a monumental dearth of acumen and gumption?

      Oh, and can we talk an appropriate level of “reparations” for half a century of unconstitutional taxation and support for the aforementioned unconstitutional affirmative action.

      I mean, who’s gonna clean up that mess, right?

      By, the way, breaking the “glass ceiling” is criminal trespass and breaking and entering.

      Do you only obey the laws you like and make false laws for your own benefit, which seems a bit selfish, wouldn’t you say?

      The whole idea of the Founders was freedom and self-reliance, not “free stuff” and affirmative action, or am I wrong?
      _____________________________________________________________________________________________

      FREEDOM FROM BIAS OR FAVORITISM

      Merriam-Webster

      equity
      noun
      eq·​ui·​ty ˈe-kwə-tē 
      plural equities
      1
      a : justice according to natural law or right

      specifically : freedom from bias or favoritism

  11. Here’s all you need to know: Hogan Lovells is private property.

    Americans enjoy the freedom of speech and its genesis, thought and opinion, regarding all subjects.

    Those who nullify the Constitution are insurrectionist subversives, and direct and mortal enemies of the Constitution and America.
    _______________________________________________________________________________________________________

    “[Private property is] that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual.”

    – James Madison
    ______________

    5th Amendment

    No person shall be…deprived of…property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
    _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    1st Amendment

    Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech,….
    _____________________________________________________

    Oh, and:

    – Roe v. Wade was a partial, corrupt, high criminal, political adjudication by a corrupt, communist (liberal, progressive, socialist, democrat, RINO, AINO) Supreme Court in 1973.

    – Dobbs v. Jackson is irrefutably the original intent of the Framers and the verbatim letter and spirit of the Constitution.

    – Abortion is legislated by States.

    Oh, and the government has no enumerated or other constitutional power to function in any capacity in the free markets of the private sector, and government has no enumerated power to legislate, order, direct or compel railroads or workers to perform. Railroads are private property with the sole power to hire, fire, direct and pay employees. Private citizens may accept or reject employment. Insolvent entities must be administered and disposed of by bankruptcy courts.

    Oh, and the judicial branch was revealed to enjoy the powers of the doctrine of Judicial Review in Marbury v. Madison, 1803; all acts of the executive and legislative branches must be reviewed by the Supreme Court for compliance with the Constitution (the entire communist American welfare state [agencies, departments. laws and programs] is unconstitutional).

    Shh….It happened. Chief Justice Taney tried.
    ____________________________________

    “The clause in the Constitution which authorizes the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is in the ninth section of the first article. This article is devoted to the Legislative Department of the United States, and has not the slightest reference to the Executive Department.”

    “I can see no ground whatever for supposing that the President in any emergency or in any state of things can authorize the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, or arrest a citizen except in aid of the judicial power.”

    “I have exercised all the power which the Constitution and laws confer on me, but that power has been resisted by a force too strong for me to overcome.”

    – Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, May 28, 1861
    ____________________________________

    Honorable (?) Justices, please start earning your paychecks and do your sworn-oath duties with extreme impartiality, implementing the literal “manifest tenor” of the words of the English language in the U.S Constitution, without legislating by irrelevant, antithetical and malicious “interpretation.”

    You most certainly have promises to keep and miles to go before you sleep.
    ____________________________________________________________

    Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
    By Robert Frost

    Whose woods these are I think I know.   
    His house is in the village though;   
    He will not see me stopping here   
    To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

    My little horse must think it queer   
    To stop without a farmhouse near   
    Between the woods and frozen lake   
    The darkest evening of the year.   

    He gives his harness bells a shake   
    To ask if there is some mistake.   
    The only other sound’s the sweep   
    Of easy wind and downy flake.   

    The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,   
    And miles to go before I sleep,   
    And miles to go before I sleep.

    1. You left out the law of Agency and Partnership which can link government to private property, businesses, and concerns and confer the restrictions on government on the private corporations.

      1. Incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial.

        Unconstitutional legislation is moot, having no actual, but phantom, weight or force.

        Examples are Roe v. Wade and the entire, illicitly legislated, communist American welfare state, including its agencies, departments, laws and programs.

        May I remind you that illicit, unconstitutional Roe was corrected; the welfare state, which rests on bias and favoritism, awaits precisely the same fate.

        Ironically, the parasites and dependents demand equity, a condition which would abrogate the bias and favoritism inherent in the false benefits and entitlements they enjoy.
        ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

        FREEDOM FROM BIAS OR FAVORITISM

        Merriam-Webster

        equity
        noun
        eq·​ui·​ty ˈe-kwə-tē 
        plural equities
        1
        a : justice according to natural law or right

        specifically : freedom from bias or favoritism

        1. That it was eventually bound to happen is a tough Roe to hoe for any of these farmers. Bring a case before SCOTUS and precedent will stand in the spotlight in danger of being snuffed. Svelaz’ detailed analysis nothwithstanding, the matter is irrelevant to it. SCOTUS reassessed the matter as having being poorly ruled on and remanded it to state’s rights. That an attorney was pilloried for defense of the Constitution by colleagues in a law office is an anathema and a road sign to where we are headed.

          1. SCOTUS needs no case.

            SCOTUS has Judicial Review.

            SCOTUS is the Constitution and the Constitution is SCOTUS.

            Corrupt Justices forgot that, and began “interpreting” for effect.

            Corruption on the SCOTUS is high criminal and actionable.

            The singular American failure is the Supreme Court.

            Taney tried:

            “The clause in the Constitution which authorizes the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is in the ninth section of the first article. This article is devoted to the Legislative Department of the United States, and has not the slightest reference to the Executive Department.”

            “I can see no ground whatever for supposing that the President in any emergency or in any state of things can authorize the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, or arrest a citizen except in aid of the judicial power.”

            “I have exercised all the power which the Constitution and laws confer on me, but that power has been resisted by a force too strong for me to overcome.”

            – Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, May 28, 1861

  12. Those lawyers that said that they “cannot breathe” in the presence of opposing opinions are psychological snowflakes, I’m sure they have shelves full of their participation trophies to display.

      1. But they did not.
        Rather, they wilted before an opposing point of view. They had an emotional meltdown. They experienced difficulty breathing.
        All due to the fact they lacked the emotional maturity to even debate an issue.
        They are supposedly college grads from law schools.
        Yet, they sound more like a 6 year old.
        This is the kind of future the leftists are going to give us.

      2. Creekan wrote, “They should’ve all taken a deep breath and said, “OK, boomer.” “

        So Creekan, explain to me what saying “OK, boomer” is going to accomplish other than proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that they’re ignorant psychological snowflakes slinging ad hominems because they have no intelligent arguments to contradict the opposing opinions that’s taking their breath away?

        I’ll hold my breath and wait for your intelligent retort.

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