“WTF is Wrong with You”: Columbia Center and Law Students Protest Meeting With Justice Kavanaugh

Columbia University law students and alums are in an uproar over an Instagram post that showed students in the Federalist Society meeting with Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh at the Court. It would ordinarily be a singular experience for law students to spend time with one of the nine justices. That is not how it went over at Columbia where some are outraged by the meeting and Columbia’s posting the picture on its social media account. The Empowering Women of Color group announced it was “withdrawing our participation from Columbia Law School recruiting events.” Columbia’s own Center for Engaged Pedagogy, simply declared “WTF is wrong with you.”

With the posting, Columbia offered the following description:

“On February 23, members of the Columbia Federalist Society (@clsfedsoc) visited the Supreme Court of the United States to engage in conversation with Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. During the visit, they learned about the human side of being a justice, the Court’s deliberation process, and how to be an effective advocate. Justice Kavanaugh also answered questions about a few of his most famous opinions.”

That would seem precisely the type of opportunity that a premier law school seeks to make available to its students. However, Kavanaugh remains persona non grata due to his conservative jurisprudence and allegations from his confirmation hearings. It does not matter that Kavanaugh (who was later the subject of an assassination attempt) was never charged with any crime and vehemently denies the allegations of Christine Blasey Ford.

Those opposing any engagement with Kavanaugh raised both his legal viewpoints and the assault allegations.

The Black Law Students Association wrote on behalf of a large number of groups to oppose the posting and to “put the administration on notice” that it is unacceptable for law students to meet with the justice — or for the law school to support it.

“We believe that our school’s choice to platform Justice Kavanaugh is symbolic of a pattern of behavior that our organization does not and will not support and will not be affiliated with. We thank LALSA, NALSA, EWOC, OutLaws, QTPOC, IfWhenHow, APALSA, SALSA, and others, for joining us in this advocacy and struggle. We look forward to continued collaboration. By joining us in this effort, you have all helped put the administration on notice that we have a strong and growing collective.”

The objection to “platforming” Kavanaugh is telling. Deplatforming is a major tool used by the anti-free speech movement.

As discussed earlier, former Dartmouth Professor Mark Bray is the author of a book entitled “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook” and one of the chief enablers of these protesters. Bray describes Antifa as “a pan-left radical politics uniting communists, socialists, anarchists and various different radical leftists together for the shared purpose of combating the far right.” However, the broader anti-free speech movement shares the same underlying opposition to “platforming” of those with opposing views.

Bray speaks positively of the effort to supplant traditional views of free speech: “At the heart of the anti-fascist outlook is a rejection of the classical liberal phrase… that says I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” He defines anti-fascists as “illiberal” who reject the notion that far right views deserve to “coexist” with opposing views.

Bray says that the protesters do not “see fascism or white supremacy as a view with which they disagree as a difference of opinion.” Their goal is not co-existence but “to end their politics.” Bray and other academics are liberating students from the confines of what they deem the false “allegiance to liberal democracy.” Once freed of the values of free speech and democratic values, violence becomes merely politics by other means. When pushed, Bray stressed that Antifa is only a threat to one side and one party:

“There is a certain political lens that — agree or disagree with the lens — there is an element of continuity in terms of the types of groups targeted. I don’t know of any Democratic Party events that have been ‘no platformed,’ or shut down by anti-fascists. So there is a political lens, people will quibble about what the lens is, who designs the lens, but I don’t think the slippery slope is actually, in practice, nearly as much of a concern as people imagine it would be.”

The Empowering Women of Color group rejected the position of Columbia that it should maintain a neutral and tolerant position on such events or speakers:

“We cannot condone complicity with a man who is credibly accused of sexual assault. The insinuation from the Communications Office that the post was neutral and just the Law School’s way of highlighting activities students are participating in is laughable and untrue. A post of this kind, with its caption, is a terrifying stamp of approval.”

In other words, there is no neutrality. Columbia is expected to refuse to participate or recognize any event with the justice, who has never been charged, let alone convicted, of any crime.

However, it is the posting of the Center, as an official office of Columbia University, that is most alarming. The Center account was used to object:  “WTF is wrong with you. Ah yes. Every day I wake up wondering what is the day in the life of someone who strips people’s rights away.”  The Center helps design curriculum and methods of teaching for Columbia and states a mission of instilling “abolitionist” values:

“The CEP invites faculty, students, and staff to participate in a spring discussion group and incubation space focused on using abolitionist thinking to challenge our existing pedagogical practices and the way we live our lives. Participants will use abolitionist values to create personal and pedagogical praxes, come up with actionable plans toward a meaningful material transformation of the world.”

Those “plans” apparently do not involve principles of diversity of thought, due process, or free speech. Unless this is an unapproved posting, the Center is suggesting that law students should not meet with Kavanaugh and that the law school should not support any events with the justice.

I have no problem with the protesting of these groups, though I strongly disagree with their position. However, the involvement of an office or department of the university is deeply concerning. If this was an unapproved posting, Columbia should make that clear. If it was a statement on behalf of Columbia’s Center, the university should explain how this is consistent with its commitment to free speech and tolerance for opposing views of its students and faculty.

135 thoughts on ““WTF is Wrong with You”: Columbia Center and Law Students Protest Meeting With Justice Kavanaugh”

  1. Jonathan: There are credible claims of sexual harassment and assault by Justice Kavanaugh when he was in college. Despite this the Federalist Society, who selected all of Trump judicial appointments, chose Kavanaugh for the SC. The charges have haunted Kavanaugh ever since he joined the SC–even though Kavanaugh was never charged. Those charges didn’t factor into the decision of the students of the Federalist Society at Columbia law to visit Kavanaugh He is one of their own. And there is no surprise many other student groups at Columbia protested the visit.

    Such a confrontation is red meat for you. You take the side of the FS students and against the other student groups and Columbia’s administration. You say the Columbia’s plans to have a “discussion group” do “not involve principles of diversity of thought”. You make it clear that Columbia Center should remain neutral “consistent with its commitment to free speech and tolerance for opposing views of its students and faculty”. You can’t have it both ways. If Columbia’s statement endorsing the FS meeting with Kavanaugh was in support of “free speech” why should Columbia’s call for a discussion of the issues raised by the Kavanaugh meeting be treated any differently?

    In opposing the BLSA and other groups you cite Mark Bray’s “Antifa” handbook–trying to imply Antifa was somehow behind the protests. Using the title of your column “WTF” does Antifa have to do with the controversy at Columbia? Without any evidence you claim Bray is one of “chief enablers of these protesters”. Bray is not cited anywhere in the statements by the opposition student groups. But for sometime you have tried to portray Antifa as behind protests and “violence” around the country and you use Antifa as the convenient boogeyman when protests occur on university campuses. That claim is running thin.

    I think Joe Patrice got it about right in his column in Above the Law yesterday where he addresses the Columbia/ Kavanaugh controversy and your views: “An angry protest is a threat to speech, a peaceful protest is a threat to speech, a protest in the room is a threat [re Judge Duncan’s cancelled speech] , a protest outside is a threat, a protest down the block is a threat, asking questions is a threat, and now ‘posting on social media that you don’t like Brett Kavanaugh’ is a threat”.

    I suppose you will not be satisfied until Columbia stops any protests over Kavanaugh–well, because free speech runs in only one direction. Good luck with that one!

    1. Dennis, thank you. Here is more of Joe Patrice’s post about Turley’s criticism from “Above the Law”:

      “In defense of Jonathan Turley, he focuses on one social media post that uses the acronym “WTF,” which gives him the tiniest of openings to run with all the “lack of civility” tropes. Even with the potty-mouthed post, everything involved remains entirely peaceful criticism, but that doesn’t stop Turley from summing up the affair as, “Columbia is expected to refuse to participate or recognize any event with the justice, who has never been charged, let alone convicted, of any crime.”


      That’s important, because when normal people talk about free speech no one says “expected.” Columbia isn’t “expected” to do a damn thing. They did something. The students criticized it and exercised their freedom to not lend their effort to supporting it… and that’s okay. If Columbia finds the student’s position compelling, then it can change its mind and if Columbia prevails upon the students that’s fine too but no one is “expected” to do anything.

      But the language of expectation makes sense if you conceive of speech as an authoritarian enterprise. For these folks, it’s not really that some individual students yell or use profanity, it’s that elites aren’t getting the deference they want. They don’t see speech as merely being free to share personal views because that might involve living with the consequences. They see speech as the expectation that the audience will shut up and uncritically cheer anyone important enough to demand a stage. In that world, when someone on the other side speaks, it’s a violent act to turn the tables of expectation.”

      Joe correctly points out the gist of Turley’s endless harping over student protests when someone whose views are unpopular comes to campus: “the expectation that the audience will shut up and uncritically cheer anyone important enough to demand a stage”–in other words, college students must be required to defer to someone they find odious merely because they have been given a platform on campus to speak–which, ironically, is the antithesis of freedom of speech and expression.

      Part of the reason Turley does this is to check off another assignment from his list: red met for the disciples to help feed the trope that educated people are stupider than the disciples are, so don’t trust them or believe anything they say.

      1. Gigi: It has gotten bizarre on this blog. Notice the someone is impersonating me–using the moniker “Dennis Mc” so you will think I am frustrated “when Porn Hub went down”. When someone wants to attribute to me things I have never said, you know we are winning the struggle for the hearts and minds. That said, thanks for posting almost all of Patrice’s column. Above the Law has gotten under Turley’s skin for a long time. Turley expects that students should just shut up when conservatives appear on university campuses–or protest when FS students pay a visit to Kavanaugh. And if student groups do protest Turley thinks they should be disciplined–suspended or expelled. Turley thinks “free speech” runs only in the direction of the conservative minority. They need to be protected from any push-back by the majority of other student groups. Then Turley blames protests on Antifa–that he wants us to believe has taken over the minds of university students. Mark Bray has some sort of outsized on students and can control them. I’m sure Bray would be flattered–but notice Turley has never provided any evidence for his bizarre claim about Antifa.

        1. Though it appears distasteful to misquote anyone, Dennis McIntyre deserves it because he misquotes others continuously. We can let that be as long as we recognize he is not worthy of our trust.

          “Turley thinks “free speech” runs only in the direction of the conservative minority.”

          This statement represents a confused mindset observed where Dennis is concerned. Here he mistakes what Turley has said many times. Turley has little concern if the speaker is liberal or conservative. He wants the right for anyone to speak but does not believe in rioters preventing them from speaking.

          Most of the conservatives on this blog feel the same and respect Turley for his opinion though Turley openly admits to being on the left side of the aisle. Dennis is unable to get that through his head.

          “Turley blames protests on Antifa–that he wants us to believe has taken over the minds of university students.”

          Since we have seen Antifa stop speeches by violently rioting and burning buildings, I think Turley is safe in blaming Antifa for some of the problems. All one has to do is Google Milo and the riots on the university campus. One can even see videos of the fire set, but Dennis is impervious to the truth.

    2. ‘Federal law makes it illegal to picket or parade near a judge’s residence with the intent to interfere, obstruct or impede the administration of justice.’

      Biden’s DOJ under Garland continues to ignore federal law in order to allow protestors to parade and harass, day after day, now year after year, in front of conservative justices homes.

      US Marshals assigned to protect Supreme Court justices’ homes last year were directed “not” to arrest protesters “unless absolutely necessary,” according to newly revealed documents.’

      Deliberately allowing angry protests to continue, stalking and harassing conservative justices at their family homes, endangers them all. Yet Garland allows it — in defiance of federal law. Garland is a disgrace. He has allowed weaponization of the DOJ against conservatives and political enemies.

      1. Federal law makes it illegal to picket or parade near a judge’s residence with the intent to interfere, obstruct or impede the administration of justice. Yet Garland allows it to continue — in defiance of federal law.
        Impeach Merrick Garland.

    3. >credible claims

      No there aren’t. There are *defamatory* claims from mentally ill hacks looking for a potential payout through GoFundMe like Ford received.

    4. They are not credible otherwise there would have been charges. Your statement and your inability to budge on the matter proves the author’s point. Tenacity is a virtue, stubborness is a fault. You fall into the latter.

    5. The fascist left shouts down, assaults and disrupts others every chance they get. You defend this. “Free speech” in your world clearly runs only in one direction.

  2. And protect America from all enemies both forie and domestic. Take a good long look at what the establishment is doing to our country. Domesticly they are trying to fundamentally change this country into some left wing lunatic asylum, where the inmates have the keys. Internationally, we are headed for war that could have been avoided. Over the past 30 years we have been invading other countries at will and not living up to agreements that we made with some of our potential adversaries. There is a reset coming, and we are not going to like it.

  3. This kind of thing is insidious and creeping. What I am talking about I’ll call “groupism”. It’s now on steroids brainwashing youth in order to create wedge political issues and get the unwashed masses fighting with each other over nonsense, while the big money power brokers and corporations plot their wealth consolidation globalist economic and control schemes. The useful tools (deliberate activists) and even more ignorant fools irrationally join their various teams and unthinkingly go along with more and more.

    Groupism started decades ago when after the Civil Rights Acts, it suddenly became important to label people based on superficial nonsense, such as ancestry or skin color — and “everyone had to sign on to a group. Government forms. Affirmative action. Differentiation as to privileges and rights. Then it expanded. WTH are we doing with groups such as the “Black Women’s Law Association”. (Would we ever stand for a club that was called the “White Men’s Law Association”?

    The problem with activist groups is that first they might identify something that requires change. But then they gain power, and status, and become entrenched, and their leaders become career and financial stakeholders in perpetuating the group. No activist group ever suddenly announced: we are disbanding because we have resolved the issues. No. Instead, they seek out new and more and more ridiculous issues in order to keep growing and retain power. (What has the ACLU been doing the past some years. I cringe to once have been one of their volunteer attorneys.)

    We have reached the point in this country where there is such desperation to identify new “issues”, that make-believe issues have burgeoned, and the various “interest groups” have expanded into all manner of hysteria over whatever they can drum up. And it will never be enough. Nine Ketanji Brown Jacksons on the Supreme Court wouldn’t be enough. Where people do not wake up, this crap doesn’t end until governments get overthrown and some tyrannical regime takes away everyone’s “rights”.

  4. A relevant and interesting article appeared in the WSJ yesterday: Tunku Varadarajan , “DEI at Law Schools could bring down America” ttps://www.wsj.com/articles/woke-law-schools-could-bring-down-america-ilya-shapiro-dei-bureaucracy-stanford-supreme-court-rule-of-law-34c402c2?mod=opinion_lead_pos7
    One excerpt stands out:
    “Mr. Shapiro says “nonprogressive” law professors were rare even 20 years ago, when he studied law at the University of Chicago. Critical legal studies, fashionable in the late 1980s and early ’90s, was “passé, a very small niche thing.” Since then, “what’s really changed is the bureaucratic explosion. And most of that bureaucracy is in this DEI space, which actively subverts the traditional educational mission of truth-seeking” with its “ideas of power dynamics and intersectionality, dividing people into oppressive and oppressed classes, and things like that.”
    Pressure comes from without as well: In February 2022 the American Bar Association, which has sole authority to accredit U.S. law schools, passed a resolution demanding that they “provide education to law students on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism.” At the same time, the Biden administration’s drive for racial equity “seems to be sprinkling political commissars throughout the government.” With a mordant optimism, he observes that those may be “the only kinds of jobs that law school graduates who refuse to engage ideas they don’t like and spew epithets at federal judges may be qualified for.”

  5. Since Chuck U. Schumer called out Justice Kavanaugh by name and said, “I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price, you won’t know what hit you” Maybe he should be investigated to see if he has any ties to the left-wing nut case that went to Kavanaugh’s home to assassinate him.The loss of Justice Kavanaugh from the Court would be a gain for slimy democRATs and Chuck U. Schumer. It would not be a surprise if Nasty Pelosi is in on it as well.
    Will we see the FBI wake up lying Schumer in the middle of the night and haul him away in handcuffs?

    1. Maybe it should be regular American citizens waking up Schumer in the middle of the night to haul him away instead of the traitors in the FBI.

  6. “Totalitarian systems have always been maintained primarily by systematic indoctrination and propaganda, injected into the population on a daily basis via mass media (without mass media, it is not possible to generate such long-lasting mass formation as that which gave rise to Stalinism and Nazism). This way, the population is literally kept on the vibrational frequency of the voice of totalitarian leaders.”
    ― Mattias Desmet, The Psychology of Totalitarianism

    This is an interesting and eye opening book by Belgian Psychology Professor, Mathias Desmet about what he calls “mass formation,” which is very much similar to mass hypnosis and the same phenomenon exploited by cult leaders. The antidote is ample amount of factual information and guiding the victims to (as my father used to chide) “Engage your brain!”

    The difficulty in today’s setting is we are in a state of information (or misinformation) overload. What was once considered reliable sources of information have essentially gone by the wayside and it requires a person to triage and consume information from multiple sources and weight the arguments carefully, always leaving room for doubt.

    I understand that pressure of group dynamics and it is easier to go along with the crowd, especially as a youth. That would be a little more understandable when considering the general population, however, these are supposedly elite graduate students. I personally don’t care if they want to protest, plenty of people in my family spent time overseas and at home fighting for them to have this right. However, there is absolutely no excuse for them to demean a distinguished member of the court. How can the student form a reasonable opinion if he or she does not take the time to hear differing points of view? It is not comfortable to hear an opposing argument, but if presented intelligently, it might turn on a lightbulb that will otherwise remain forever dim. When a group or a leader seek to cancel, silence, avoid transparency or censor an opposing perspective, then it is a sure sign they have something to hide or do not have a substance or validity. They fear their house of cards will blow away.

    1. That sounds like a great idea–Cancel them with scholars from other colleges…. Boom BS ends

  7. I am struck by the smugness and self-righteousness of these young people. It is not a foregone conclusion that they will ever be successful lawyers. Lawyers actually have to think in order to deliver high quality legal services to a clientele that they must cultivate. It’s not clear to me that these folks are going to be capable of that.

    I read a newsletter written by Alan Dershowitz earlier this week in which he stated that events like the one that recently occurred at Stanford Law School are, in essence, being staged and sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild. Sad!

    In the meantime, we are entering a precarious moment in history. The geopolitical forces are aligning in a way that should be a wake up call for America. Our adversaries have taken the measure of the current administration and its leader who continues to telegraph weakness. It might be time to reinstate the draft.

    1. You are spot on, but I believe we entered this precarious moment long ago. We’re free-falling into the abyss. These protesters have no idea what’s coming, but Xi does.



    But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao

    You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow

    – John Lennon, 1968

  9. Remember when Professor Turley would not allow the “WTF” reference?

    Are we feeling the communist heat?

    There will be far fewer Constitutional Scholars when the Constitution is burned and ground up into powder.

    I am fully confident that there will arise many Communist Manifesto Scholars because their jobs will be so easy.

    The Communist Manifesto is clear and simple for scholars to assess: There is no longer a Constitution or Bill of Rights – STFU and do what you’re told, comrades.

  10. And the sheeple still don’t realize that we’re at war with the Commies and losing. By the way, Antifa was created by the Soviet Union to fight over control of Germany in the early 1930’s. The Nazis won but Antifa has never gone away. The American version is not new, they are a continuation.

    1. Seth, are you finally going to testify against the totally corrupt criminal, Hillary, and the totally corrupt, dummy organization, the Clinton Foundation?

    1. The Educational System of America has finally come into focus! China will clean our clocks before 2050!

  11. OT but if you want to LOL with Mark Geragos and Megyn Kelly discussing the Gwyneth Paltrow trial in Utah state court…

  12. Even moderates will not be tolerated, as ANTIFA moves e even futher left. Actually middle of the road normal is no longer acceptable.

  13. Any law students involved in the slandering of Justices and the silencing of an opposing views should be expelled from the University with prejudice. The Constitution is the foundation of all law in the US and law students that shun it and disrespect it have no business being lawyers. Expel them all and that will make an example of them and cause others like them to be “woke” to reality!

  14. I fully agree with your comments. Thomas Jefferson once said ” I love the noise of democracy.”
    I fear that some folks in America do not share that view. If so, we are in deep trouble as a nation.

    1. Under the Framers and Founders, including Thomas Jefferson, turnout was 11.6% in 1788 and vote criteria were male, European, 21, 50 lbs. Sterling/50 acres – within that year, immigration was restricted to “…free white males…,” further restricting the vote. Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin did not give you a one man, one vote democrazy, they gave you a severely restricted-vote republic, under the dominion of the Constitution and Bill of Rights (which did not prohibit secession, BTW). The vote was of great import, much too great to give to “Everyman.” One man, one vote democracy IS the “dictatorship of the proletariat.”

    2. Sir,
      Quoting Jefferson does not provide you cover from an inexcusably shallow viewpoint. When you can’t see the barbarians at the gate your entitled to membership in the Neville Chamberlain fan club.



    They are here illegally. Everything Lincoln did was unconstitutional and it all remains invalid, illicit, illegitimate and unconstitutional. Lincoln must have been immediately struck down by the Supreme Court upon his utterance of the falsehood that fully constitutional secession was unconstitutional. Gross amendment of the Constitution and “fundamentally transforming” the United States of America were not Lincoln’s purview – not the mandate of a 38.9% “victory.” The Constitution was adopted for the benefit of Americans, not illegal aliens. Lincoln threw the baby out with the bathwater – he threw the Constitution out with reprehensible slavery. Lincoln must have compassionately repatriated the long-suffering victims who had been abducted by their tribal leaders – the singular desire of typical abductees is to go home. The only thing America needs is a Supreme Court that supports the clear and evident, meaning and intent of the Constitution. The Supreme Court has committed egregious and insidious treason since 1860 by supporting and incrementally implementing the Communist Manifesto. Unconstitutional abortion was recently corrected retroactively by 50 years. The annihilation and abrogation of the Constitution by Lincoln must now be corrected and reversed retroactively by 150 years.

    Naturalization Acts of 1790, 1795, 1798 and 1802 (four confirming iterations)

    United States Congress, “An act to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization,” March 26, 1790

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That any Alien being a free white person, who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for the term of two years, may be admitted to become a citizen thereof…

      1. Legal history stopped in 1860 with the advent of “Crazy Abe’s” wholly unconstitutional “Reign of Terror.”

        The Supreme Court must have found NO prohibition of secession in the Constitution and struck “Crazy Abe” down in 1861 by Judicial Review, clearly established in Marbury v. Madison (1803).

        Please cite the Constitution wherein secession is prohibited.

        Secession is ubiquitous globally and throughout history; the Founders availed themselves of secession in 1776.

        Confederate states would have failed and reunited for the benefit of themselves within a decade or two having been ostracized, advocated against, boycotted and divested of.

        Unconstitutional American history persisted only by the imposition of the illegal and unconstitutional brute force of unconstitutional military dictatorship which must have been immediately struck down by the Supreme Court.

        History continued after 1860 with a gun to America’s head.

        Union soldiers were drafted by force, eh?

        If you follow the law, you can’t get to Lincoln’s “history” – you retain the history of the American Founders and their original intent – ooo, you just hate those Founders, huh?

        You just hate America, huh? Yep, communism’s the way to go.

        Lincoln threw the baby out with the bathwater; he threw the Constitution out with reprehensible slavery which must have been ended through legal means – the compassionate repatriation of illegal aliens was and remains the legal remedy.

        Alas, not to worry. American history is just about over. You’ll be dancing to the Chinese communist tune real soon – thank Obama et al.

        Xièxiè, comrade!!!

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