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A D.C. appellate judge urged colleagues to consider whether Yale University students who shout down speakers on campus should be be barred from clerkships, in an email to fellow judges published by lawyer David Lat on his Substack.
Judge Laurence Silberman of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals emailed all Article III judges on Thursday, according to Lat, following news that about 100 Yale Law School students protested a panel discussion on civil liberties. The disruption of the panel event, hosted by the Yale Federalist Society, was reported by the Washington Free Beacon.
“The latest events at Yale Law School, in which students attempted to shout down speakers participating in a panel discussion on free speech, prompt me to suggest that students who are identified as those willing to disrupt any such panel discussion should be noted,” Silberman wrote in the email.
“All federal judges—and all federal judges are presumably committed to free speech—should carefully consider whether any student so identified should be disqualified from potential clerkships,” Silberman added.
Several other judges replied to Silberman in an email chain.
“Thank you for your email. I couldn’t agree more,” wrote Judge John Walker of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, according to Slate.
“Shouldn’t there be a finding that a student acted inappropriately at least by the institution of higher learning,” Florida district judge Donald Graham wrote. “I don’t intend to get into the fact finding process.”
Judge Donald Graham, another GHWB nominee who serves on a district court in Florida, responded: "Shouldn't there be a finding that a student acted inappropriately at least by the institution of higher learning. I don't intend to get into the fact finding process." pic.twitter.com/X6yUc5UrnL
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) March 17, 2022
The Yale panel in question was designed to show that speakers from different political and cultural positions could both support free speech. The panel’s speakers were Monica Miller, the legal director of the American Humanist Association, and Kristen Waggoner, the general counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom.
Video of the panel obtained by the Free Beacon showed student demonstrators arguing with panelists and holding signs in protest of the event:
Yale law professor Kate Stith attempted to tell demonstrators not to interrupt the panel, with one protester telling Stith she would “literally fight you, bitch.” Stith responded that the demonstrators should “grow up.”
After demonstrators left the room at Stith’s urging, the students stomped on the floor, banged walls and shouted in an attempt to disrupt the panel.
“It was disturbing to witness law students whipped into a mindless frenzy,” Waggoner told the Free Beacon. “I did not feel it was safe to get out of the room without security.”