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Stanford law students who shouted down judge may be reported to California Bar

Sen. Ted Cruz also warned the Texas Board of Law Examiners against the Stanford law students

A law professor at George Washington University said he may file complaints intended to prevent Stanford Law School students who ambushed Judge Kyle Duncan from being admitted to the California Bar if campus administrators do not punish them for their disruptions.

Professor John Banzhaf of George Washington University Law School sent a letter to Professor Jenny Martinez, dean of Stanford Law School, warning of his plans.

“I am writing to advise you that I plan to file formal complaints with bar admission authorities opposing the admission of students identified as violating the free speech rights of Judge Duncan and their own fellow students,” read Banzhaf’s letter, a copy of which was obtained by The College Fix.

The professor, in his letter, added his pending complaint is the result of Stanford appearing not to take “any steps to discipline or otherwise sanction the student violators.”

Students at Stanford Law School shouted at and berated U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Kyle Duncan as he attempted to speak at the school at the behest of the Federalist Society earlier this month.

“As you have conceded, the students’ conduct ‘was inconsistent with our policies on free speech,’ and ‘not aligned with our institutional commitment to freedom of speech,’” Banzhaf noted in the letter.

Asked how he plans to identify the law student protesters, Banzhaf said in an email to The College Fix that the “names of some of the disruptors have been posted in various places on the Internet. There are also several video recordings of the event showing many of the disruptors.”

“Also, virtually everyone in the audience, and even many other law students who did not witness the incident in person, know who the disruptive students are,” he said. “It is not necessary to identify and file complaints concerning each and every participant. If only a few – who may or may not be among the ringleaders – are identified, there will still be an important impact.”

Banzhaf, in his letter to Martinez, mentioned his track record of successful past complaints, including against the tobacco industry.

“I’ve been called ‘a Driving Force Behind the Lawsuits That Have Cost Tobacco Companies Billions of Dollars,’ and ‘The Law Professor Who Masterminded Litigation Against the Tobacco Industry,’ among others,” Banzhaf wrote.

Banzhaf told The Fix he is waiting to see if Stanford disciplines the disruptors before he sends in his complaint to the California bar admission authorities.

Such a complaint could conceivably lead to a prohibition on them practicing law in California.

“If the disruptors suffer no adverse consequences, from Stanford or elsewhere, that will help to further convince lawyers and others that there is a ‘hate speech’ (or perhaps even a ‘speech I don’t like’) exception to the free speech and the First Amendment (which in CA applies in part) guarantees,” Banzhaf said.

The shouting down of Judge Duncan during his lecture at Stanford has been widely condemned in recent days, including by Senator Ted Cruz.

“It was deeply disturbing to watch the viral video that captured Stanford Law students harassing and insulting Judge Kyle Duncan, a sitting federal circuit judge, who had been invited by the school’s Federalist Society chapter to speak at a school-sanctioned event,” Cruz said in a recent letter to Stanford officials, according to Fox News.

The Hill reports that Cruz has also “urged the Texas state bar to carefully consider the fitness of certain Stanford University law school graduates after a protest over a conservative judge’s speaking engagement on the campus.”

“The idea that these future lawyers would find it acceptable to harass and insult a sitting judge boggles the mind, and seriously calls into question whether these students have the proper respect for the role of a judge, or the temperament to practice law,” the Texas Republican said in a letter to Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht and Augustin Rivera, the chair of the Texas Board of Law Examiners.

The Fix contacted Stanford Law School Dean Martinez for this story, but she did not respond to requests for comment.

In addition to Judge Duncan, several conservative speakers have been shouted down during lectures by law school students in recent years.

In March 2022, constitutional law scholar Ilya Shapiro was heckled by law students as he attempted to speak at an event hosted by the Federalist Society at UC Hastings College of Law.

“They screamed obscenities and physically confronted me, several times getting in my face or blocking my access to the lectern, and they shouted down a dean,” Shapiro said about the incident in The Wall Street Journal.

At Yale Law School in March 2022, a bipartisan panel on civil liberties was disrupted by a rowdy group of protesters who shrieked over the speakers among other disruptions.

The Yale incident was deemed so outrageous by some that a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Judge, James Ho, said later that year he would no longer hire Yale law students as clerks.

MORE: Conservative federal judge won’t hire Yale Law School clerks

MORE: Judge ambushed at Stanford refuses to apologize for calling protesters ‘idiots, bullies and hypocrites’

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About the Author
College Fix contributor David Glasser is a rising second-year student at the Florida State University College of Law, with over six years of news and opinion writing experience for various publications. He is set to graduate in 2026.