Week in review: KU Law’s loss, Elon Musk’s right step, Tyler Adams’ World Cup class

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KU students lose conservative advice

This week, Kansas Supreme Court Justice Caleb Stegall decided to give up his position as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Kansas School of Law. In a blistering letter he knew would be leaked, he accused the law school of “bullying and censoring tactics,” saying it “gives institutional backing and support to overwrought grievances” from critics.

What did the justice find so offensive? Some students objected to the KU chapter of the Federalist Society inviting a leader of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a far-right activist nonprofit, to speak at KU. Stegall claimed law school administrators had pressured the student hosts to cancel the event.

Let’s be clear about two things: First, the Alliance Defending Freedom is not an anodyne conservative organization. It’s legitimately labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. ADF aims to enshrine its particular form of religion into law in the United States and around the globe. Claiming “Christians are being punished for living by their convictions,” it most actively tries to nullify LBGT rights. It’s supported forced sterilization of transgender people. It compares gay activists to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Surely most mainstream conservatives wouldn’t sign on to the ADF’s cruel agenda.

And second, the Federalist Society event went on as planned anyway.

Did college students overreact and try to stifle the free exchange of ideas? Does KU Law discount legal viewpoints from the right? Those are fair debates to be had.

But by taking his ball and going home, Justice Stegall is depriving lawyers-to-be of his own brand of conservative jurisprudence. That’s a bigger obstacle to open discourse than a protest to an extremist speaker. He should reconsider his resignation.

Roy Blunt does right for gay marriage

Hooray: The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed a bipartisan bill to protect interracial and same-sex marriage. That’s a significant milestone for LGBTQ Americans, not to mention everyone else who values their most personal of liberties.

After the Supreme Court this year overturned the constitutional right to an abortion, which had been in place since the 1970s, members of the LGBTQ community and others grew concerned the high court would also revisit the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision that made same-sex marriage legal across the country — especially after Justice Clarence Thomas actually suggested they do just that.

So of course in the midst of progress, a famous Missouri Republican made a last-ditch effort to stand in the way.

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft penned a desperate letter to retiring Sen. Roy Blunt, pleading for him to block the bill. Missourians already defined marriage as between one man and one woman, Ashcroft implored, referring to the 71% of residents who voted to add that language to the state constitution all the way back in 2004. Never mind that the provision became null and void in 2015 when the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalized same-sex marriages nationwide.

He also tacked a handwritten note to Blunt at the bottom of his missive: “Please, I urge you to stand strong for Missourians.”

And here’s the best part: Blunt was not moved by Ashcroft’s letter and supported the bill. He was the only senator from Kansas or Missouri who voted for the legislation.

So talk about standing strong. Way to go out, Sen. Blunt. He retires from politics when his term ends next month. Drop the mic.

Iowa reaps what it has sown

It appears Democrats have tired of Iowa caucus shenanigans, and will move their first-in-the-nation presidential primary to South Carolina in 2024.

Last week, President Joe Biden sent a letter to party officials recommending the move. A South Carolina primary would be followed by presidential preference elections in New Hampshire, Nevada, and perhaps Georgia and Michigan.

The Democratic Iowa caucuses, a fixture of presidential politics since 1976, would come, um, later. (Republicans in Iowa still want to be first, but it isn’t clear the GOP can make Democrats do something they don’t want to do.)

The Iowa caucuses have a certain charm. Voters do take their choices seriously, even if history provides a very mixed lesson on their importance. Iowans undoubtedly tire of the onslaught of political ads before the vote, but TV stations have expanded their buildings on caucus advertising revenue.

Someone once asked presidential candidate Bob Dole why Iowa should hold the first presidential contest. “Someone has to go first,” he replied.

Democrats want to drop Iowa in part because it doesn’t reflect the nation’s demography. Fair enough, but let’s be real: The Democratic Iowa caucuses are often messy and confusing, too. The party butchered the results in 2020, dramatically reducing their impact. Biden finished fourth.

So moving the presidential primary contests around makes some sense. Perhaps the parties could rotate the calendar, giving different states the first chance in future elections. Because, you know, someone has to go first.

Tyler Adams’ World Cup class

There are few moments more supercharged than sitting in post-match press conferences following a high-stakes World Cup match, and earlier this week 23-year-old Tyler Adams did America extraordinarily proud: First, of course, by the young captain leading his team to a 1-0 victory over Iran into the elimination round. And second, by deftly fielding questions by an Iranian journalist that could have been difficult to answer with composure for even the experienced media pros.

Adams, who is biracial with a white mother and a Black father, was initially rebuked for incorrectly mispronouncing the word Iran. Next, an Iranian reporter asked how he felt about representing America overseas, given that it still features significant racism.

He chose to keep things positive, and explained that there is “racism everywhere” but that America is making progress.

It was such a lovely moment. He was probably right to keep the focus on the victory. Congratulations to the whole team, and to everywhere else. We can only hope that when the play begins in four years, we’ll be treated to nearly as much excitement — and perhaps a tad less political tension — here in Kansas City.

Elon Musk the adult in the Twitter room

We guess even Elon Musk has his limits. Apparently Kanye West — now going by the name Ye — thought brandishing a swastika inside a Star of David would be a good idea on Twitter.

On Friday, new CEO Elon Musk said even his new anything goes rules doesn’t quite go that far.

The n-word. The swastika. Some Confederate signs and memorials: Wouldn’t we all be better off if we just agree as a country that their place in civil society has passed? Completely?

Well, good on Elon.