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VIDEO: Stanford Law DEI dean, rowdy student protesters berate federal judge invited to give speech

Judge: ‘If enough of these kids get into the legal profession, the rule of law will descend into barbarism’

A mob of jeering students yelled at and scolded a federal judge at Stanford Law School on Thursday who had come to the top-ranked school to give a speech at the behest of the Federalist Society.

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Kyle Duncan was also dressed down by Tirien Steinbach, a diversity, equity and inclusion dean at Stanford Law School, who vented against Duncan in a contradiction-filled screed filmed by one of the audience members.

The cancel culture incident has gained so much ridicule and outrage against Stanford that Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Stanford Law Dean Jenny Martinez issued an apology Saturday to Judge Duncan and a pledge to ensure such boisterous disruptions never happen again.

According to their letter, “Our disruption policy states that students are not allowed to ‘prevent the effective carrying out’ of a ‘public event’ whether by heckling or other forms of interruption.”

Yet dozens of student protesters, some of whom had their faces painted and carried signs that read “RESPECT TRANS RIGHTS,” “FEDSUCK” and “BE PRONOUN NOT PRO-BIGOT,” ignored that policy when they shouted down not only the gay Federalist Society member tasked with introducing Duncan, but the judge himself.

Duncan, appointed by former President Donald Trump, was “booed” and “heckled” right from the start of his comments with shouts of “You couldn’t get into Stanford,” “You’re not welcome here, we hate you,” and “Why do you hate black people,” according Above the Law editor emeritus David Lat.

One of things the protesters were angry about was Duncan’s refusal to use a transgender sex offender’s preferred pronouns in a 2020 opinion. They also claimed he is opposed to same-sex marriage and black Americans’ right to vote, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

“Nearly everyone in the room showed up to disrupt the proceeding, according to Duncan and two members of the Federalist Society, and many of the hundred or so students on hand were holding profane signs, including one that declared: ‘Duncan can’t find the clit,'” the Beacon reported.

“Each time Duncan began to speak, the protesters would heckle him with insults, shouting things like ‘scumbag’ and ‘you’re a liar!'”

After about 10 futile minutes of attempting to speak, Judge Duncan ripped the heckling protesters, calling them “juvenile idiots” and saying he couldn’t believe the “blatant disrespect.”

Lat notes that both DEI Dean Steinbach (pictured) and the Stanford student relations representative did absolutely nothing about the protesters’ disruptions.

Judge Duncan finally called for an administrator to help restore order, whereupon Steinbach came to the podium. She refused to speak with the judge privately, instead preferring to address the crowd.

In a prepared statement, Steinbach said she was “pained” to inform Duncan that he was “welcome here” at Stanford to give his talk.

But “is the juice worth the squeeze” Steinbach said, an apparent metaphor as to whether Duncan’s right to speak was worth the pain his words would cause students and others.

She went on to say she hoped Duncan would stay to give his talk because she wanted to “know [his] perspective,” and noted if Duncan was shut down, folks on her side of the political aisle could be next.

MORE: Stanford Law students walk out on speaker discussing legality of DACA repeal

But then Steinbach said she understood that “some people feel like the harm is so great that we might need to reconsider those [free speech] policies.”

“I hope that you have something to share with us that we can learn from,” she told the judge. “I hope you can learn too while you’re in this institution of learning. I hope you can look through the spectacle and the noise to the people holding the signs. The people who are here to learn.”

Lat reported that “the event concluded when the heckling was so disruptive and Judge Duncan was so flustered that it could not continue. One source told me the event ended about 40 minutes before the scheduled end time.”

Duncan told the Beacon the student protesters behaved like “dog shit,” and that “if enough of these kids get into the legal profession, the rule of law will descend into barbarism.”

After the aborted event, Duncan told Lat he heard that Steinbach “was claiming two things”: The first was that he did not have any prepared remarks for his speech (they actually were on his iPad) and was just looking “to stir up trouble.” The second was the fact that marshals had to escort him out of the building was proof he is a “rabble rouser.”

“You don’t invite someone to your campus to scream and hurl invective at them,” Duncan said. “Did I speak sharply to some of the students? I did. Do I feel sorry about it? I don’t.”

National Review’s Ed Whelan commented further late Saturday afternoon about the apology letter from university leadership to Judge Duncan.

“What happened was inconsistent with our policies on free speech, and we are very sorry about the experience you had while visiting our campus,” the letter from the officials read. “We are very clear with our students that, given our commitment to free expression, if there are speakers they disagree with, they are welcome to exercise their right to protest but not to disrupt the proceedings.”

In an obvious reference to Steinbach, the letter also said “In addition, staff members who should have enforced university policies failed to do so, and instead intervened in inappropriate ways that are not aligned with the university’s commitment to free speech.”

Duncan accepted the apology, and in particular was pleased with the reprimand of Steinbach, he told Whelan.

“I hope a similar apology is tendered to the persons in the Stanford law school community most harmed by the mob action: the members of the Federalist Society who graciously invited me to campus,” the judge said.

The Beacon reported that in the week prior to the event, Stanford students had begun a public shaming peer pressure campaign against the Federalist Society members who had invited Duncan in an effort to get the talk canceled.

Whelan said that if Stanford is serious about “taking steps to ensure that something like this does not happen again,” the first thing it can do is to fire Dean Steinbach.

MORE: Students of color accuse Stanford Law School of being steeped in racism

IMAGE: Stanford Law screencap

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.