Many takes have been written about the eight-minute disruption of a visiting law professor at the City University of New York School of Law, but perhaps you’re wondering:
Who is Josh Blackman? What is the Federalist Society, whose campus chapter invited the South Texas College of Law professor to speak? And can something be good and yet illegal?
Answering those questions is Ilya Shapiro, senior fellow at the Cato Institute and editor of the think tank’s Supreme Court Review.
He writes in The Federalist about his personal experience with Blackman (“my good friend and sometime co-author”), the history of the Federalist Society (where Shapiro has been a member for 20 years), and why Blackman would argue that shielding undocumented young people from deportation is bad when it’s done unilaterally:
The Federalist Society arose in the early 1980s to combat the left-wing tilt of the legal academy. … Conservatives and libertarians are in the decided minority at essentially all law schools, so it functions as part counter-programming, part support group.
And it’s nerdy, really nerdy. If you want to hear debates on Supreme Court cases and theories of constitutional interpretation, it’s for you. If you want political red meat, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Shapiro called Blackman “one of the most mild-mannered people I know” and “neither a bomb-thrower nor a troll … a budding public intellectual, not an attention-seeking entertainer” in the vein of Milo Yiannopoulos:
He also showed his skill as a teacher by making an object lesson of [President] Obama’s Deferred Action for Child Arrivals executive orders, which seemed to be at the heart of the student opposition. “The lesson is you can support something as a matter of policy,” he began to explain before yet another interruption, “but find that the law does not permit it. And then the answer is to change the law.”
The mob’s response to that rather obvious and banal point was “f-ck the law.” An incredulous Josh could only reply, “You are all in law school. And it is a bizarre thing to say ‘f-ck the law’ when you are in law school.”
In fact, Blackman supports the legislative approval of the DREAM Act, just not the unilateral imposition of this policy by the executive: “The protestors just couldn’t fathom that something can be a good idea and yet not legal.”
But these student protesters – whose attempts to shut down another student group’s event went unimpeded by administrators for eight minutes – “couldn’t care less about following the proper procedures for getting what they want,” Shapiro writes:
As yet another sign put it, “Rule of law = white supremacy, violence against [people of color], violence against immigrants.” I guess the protestors’ position really is that when the law points you in an unfavorable policy direction, you’re a white supremacist.