Below is my column in Fox.com on the recent controversy at Stanford Law School over the canceling of remarks from Judge Stuart Duncan of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. It was a chilling reminder of the anti-free speech movement sweeping across our universities, including our law schools.
“Is the juice worth the squeeze?” While it may sound like hipster gibberish, it could well prove to be the epitaph for free speech at Stanford University. Those were the words of wisdom of Stanford DEI Dean Tirien Steinbach in what could go down as one of the most disgraceful moments in modern legal education.
For years, free speech has been in a free fall on our campuses. Many faculty have virtually purged conservatives and libertarians from their ranks in what has become an academic echo chamber. It is common for conservative speakers to be blocked or canceled with the support of professors and students alike.
Yet, what occurred at Stanford this week shocked even those of us who have challenged this orthodoxy for years.
The Stanford Federalist Society invited Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to speak on campus. It is a great opportunity to hear the views of one of the highest ranked judicial officers in the country. Some students also are likely to apply to Duncan for prestigious clerkships so this was an opportunity to make an important connection.
However, liberal students decided that allowing a conservative judge to speak on campus is intolerable and set about to “deplatform” him by shouting him down. It was reminiscent of an equally disgraceful event at Yale Law School when another conservative speaker was similarly canceled — the law students then objected to the fact that campus police were present.
In this event, Duncan was planning to speak on the topic: “The Fifth Circuit in Conversation with the Supreme Court: Covid, Guns, and Twitter.” A video shows that the students prevented Duncan from speaking and the judge asked for an administrator to be called in to allow the event to proceed.
Dean Steinback then took the stage and, instead of demanding that the students allow for the event to proceed, Steinback launched into a babbling attack on the judge for seeking to be heard despite such objections.
Steinbach explained “I had to write something down because I am so uncomfortable up here. And I don’t say that for sympathy, I just say that I am deeply, deeply uncomfortable.”
One would expect that the next line would be a condemnation of those who refuse to let opposing views to be heard in the law school. Instead, it turns out that it was the free speech itself that was so stressful and painful for the law dean.
Steinbach declared “It’s uncomfortable to say that for many people here, you’re work has caused harm.” After a perfunctory nod to free speech, Steinbach proceeded to eviscerate it to the delight of the law students. She continued “again I still ask, is the juice worth the squeeze?” “Is it worth the pain that this causes, the division that this causes? Do you have something so incredibly important to say about Twitter and guns and Covid that that is worth this impact on the division of these people.”
It is a familiar argument for many of us in higher education. Free speech is now often portrayed as harmful and threatening to the safety of the community. Steinbach suggested that it was Judge Duncan who should be ashamed in trying to speak when others object to his views, including clearly herself.
Dean Steinbach then encouraged people who opposed Duncan to walk out in protest. Many did. That was not a problem. The problem was coming to the event to disrupt it. What is critical is that Steinbach was asked to step forward as an administrator to speak for the law school, not another protester.
The response to Steinbach’s shameful intervention was also all too familiar. MSNBC regular Elie Mystal defended the law students in preventing the judge from speaking. He called it conservative “victimization” and whining simply because the students are expressing themselves.
Mystal is the “justice correspondent” for the Nation Magazine and has written for Above the Law, a prominent anti-free speech site. He is known for racist attacks on black conservatives and has called the Constitution “trash.”
Despite his inflammatory history, I would be the first to oppose conservatives shouting down Mystal or preventing him from speaking. Yet, liberals insist that preventing others from speaking is an exercise of free speech.
Cancel campaigns are now a common occurrence in schools ranging from Yale to Northwestern to Georgetown. Blocking others from speaking is not the exercise of free speech. It is the very antithesis of free speech. Nevertheless, faculty have supported such claims. CUNY Law Dean Mary Lu Bilek showed how far this trend has gone. When conservative law professor Josh Blackman was stopped from speaking about “the importance of free speech,” Bilek insisted that disrupting the speech on free speech was free speech. (Bilek later cancelled herself and resigned). Even student newspapers have declared opposing speech to be outside of the protections of free speech. At University of California- Santa Barbara, professors actually rallied around a professor who physically assaulted pro-life advocates and tore down their display.
Stanford must now decide whether the “juice” of free speech is worth the “squeeze” of the mob. That distasteful juice mocked by Steinback is the very thing that defines and sustains higher education.
68 thoughts on ““Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze?”: Stanford Dean Joins Mobs in Denouncing Federal Judge at Law School Event”
This is clearly abuse of power. A dean has the power to destroy the academic career of any student, and therefore jeopardize the student’s future professional prospects and career. That this dean effectively denounces the guest judge then encourages students to leave sends a strong message that the students should comply and walk out. That increases peer pressure to do so. It is disgusting to see blatant politicizing and abuse of power. The dean should be fired. Stanford should be embarrassed and apologize to all concerned.
Do you know what juice is worth the squeeze?
Holding Stanford Law School Dean Jenny Martinez and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Dean Tirien Steinbach personally accountable for the shocking crisis at Stanford Law School. But that is only part of the juice.
Tone is set at the top. Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and the University’s Board of Trustees have allowed, and possibly even encouraged, the festering rot that led to this shocking spectacle.
Mob action against a disfavored speaker. With the active and visible support of a senior member of the Administration. Viewpoint-based censorship. They have failed miserably in their duty to educate the next generation of legal scholars
The Board, Tessier-Levigne, Martinez and Steinbach must all resign immediately. Or be sacked. And held personally responsible to the victims of their misconduct.
The juice is worth the squeeze.
“[I]s [it] worth this impact on the division of these people.”
So: In the name of collective harmony (and I am the Harmonizer) — off to the Gulag with you.
Scratch a tyrant. You’ll find a collectivist.
“I just say that I am deeply, deeply uncomfortable.”
In other words: “You hurt my feelings.”
One might excuse such a childish reply from a spoiled brat on the playground. But that, feelings run amok, was the justification used for shutting down a speaker — by a Dean. At Stanford?!
The letter of apology posted here looks suspicious– too informal: No address of the court house, no salutation, as in ‘Honorable Judge”. https://eppc.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/letter-from-Stanford.pdf
Based on what we see, your opinion is realistic, but the letter appears to be a valid response. A young man commented, and Elon Musk replied,”!” in response.
The student newspapers also responded validating the letter.
A real letter of apology would actually apologize. Also if there is a need to apologize for students and the radical DEI lady then there should be some sort of punishment of these fascist weaklings.
I agree, Hullbobby. The school must fire the Dean, and the students must not be permitted to continue with their education until they learn what the First Amendment means. That learning includes a sincere apology to Judge Duncan.
Progressive clowns need to add to their repertoire, this is old.
It appears to be two instances of this article are posted.
The crazy woke left is purging everything.
I think the nation will be a horrible unkempt shell of itself way too soon from this.
The kookball squealed the Judge has harmed all the people there.
No examples of course.
Next comes blood and death. That’s where all this goes.
What will the little helpless student lemmings do when they graduate and find themselves in a situation where they have to face a tough opponent who is sharp and prepared with facts and truth? They might feel “uncomfortable” as they are being ripped to shreds by a person who can argue a point but cannot be shouted down. They may have wished they had been prepared to understand and debate an opposing idea on its merits. No, wait, they can simply walk out on their client because they are offended.
We are experiencing the impact of these malignant institutions and their radicalized graduates. Retail theft is out of control. The criminals simply come into the stores in my city and take what they want and walk out knowing that they will not be prosecuted. The dope dealers are poisoning kids and adults alike with lethal doses of fentanyl (1 in 5 tablets on the street are lethal) and the dope dealers get a slap on the hand. The criminals harass and assault citizens and little to nothing is done. If they are captured, they are put back out on the street in hours. The judges, District attorneys don’t enforce the laws on the books. They make it up as they go and dare anyone to stop them. Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Kohls, Walgreens and many retailers are permanently closing stores. They won’t be back. This hurts a community. The ones that are open have everything locked up. Criminals are in control and are laughing about it. This malignancy is metastasizing into every aspect of society.
These are the folks that advocate taking away the means of self defense from common citizens and do absolutely nothing to prosecute a criminal who uses a gun in a crime. One of our state legislators even suggested that the criminals should not be prosecuted for gun crimes because dope dealing is a dangerous business.
The world is upside down. Politicians shamelessly lie with impunity and they do not seem to be bothered by it nor do many in the press push back. The poor little reporter has to do what their boss tells them to do or say what their boss tells them to say. It is like watching a bad, surreal dream unfold in slow motion. Then one realizes, to their disappointment that this is not a dream. It is simply bizarre.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” –Written 2600 years ago.
What the hell are you talking about? You dont describe anything close to reality. Universities are the cause of retail theft rings? No one prosecuted? Ever look at a real docket? 1 in 5 drug users are dropping dead? They must be doing it very quietly. And its all higher educations fault? Pull your head out.
Another DIEing school.
Musk recently said ESG is the devil. So is DEI.
The same thing happened at Cornell a few months ago when a bunch of far Left jerks shouted down Ann Coulter, a Cornell alumna. The University gave a mealy-mouthed apology but until today the perps have not been publicly held accountable. They were probably praised in private by the DEI bureaucrats on campus.
Any bets that those “law students” end up as dog walkers instead of clerking for Judges in the Fifth Circuit? Names not necessary. Anyone who was at Stanford Law School between 2023 and 2026, is a candidate for towel jockey at the nearest car wash after the participation diplomas are distributed.
If Steinbach is not fired, and the DEI is not dismantled, we are all doomed. 🙁
Stanford President and Law-School Dean Apologize to Judge Duncan
At the very least Dean Steinbach should make a public apology to the students and Judge Duncan that is heavily publicized with the text posted over the campus. Better yet she should be fired because she shouldn’t even be at the university with such contempt for free speech.
If this is ATS let us know when the university does something significant.
Good news, but will the phony DEI dean be fired and her job eliminated?
That’s not enough. Dean Steinbach needs to be fired and the students who disrupted Judge Duncan’s speech need to be expelled. There has to be consequences to those who try and suppress free speech. For law students who do this is unforgivable. When attorneys are admitted to the Bar, they take an oath to their state constitution and to the U.S. Constitution. It’s obvious by the actions of these students that they would be lying if they took such an oath.
Her communication to students was weasel worded.
. . . no punishment, no meaning.