UC Hastings Law Students Silence Conservative Speaker, Demand Anti-Racism Training

UC Hastings College of Law is located in San Francisco, California. Kamala Harris is the Vice President.

Earlier in the week, UC Hastings held a conversation between two professors about the possibilities presented by Stephen Breyer’s recent vacancy as Associate Supreme Court Justice. Rory Little (UC Hastings Law Professor) and Ilya Shapiro (executive director, Georgetown University Constitution Center), were the two speakers at the event. They represented the liberal perspective.

It didn’t happen. Several dozen students protestors affiliated with campus’s Black Law Students Association, (BLSA), drowned Shapiro out whenever he attempted to speak. This interrupted the planned event for the entire hour. The protesters ignored repeated requests from administrators for the continuation of the discussion and chanted repeatedly “Black Lives Matter”, until Shapiro finally gave in.

Due to his controversial comments about President Joe Biden’s promise to nominate a woman of color to the Supreme Court, Shapiro was deemed an ineligible speaker by students. In late January, Shapiro tweeted that he believed Biden’s race-and-gender-based pledge would preclude him from nominating the most qualified liberal jurist, Sri Srinivasan. He used the unfortunate phrase “lesser black woman” to describe a theoretical Biden pick; Shapiro later clarified that he did not mean to suggest black women were in any way “lesser,” but rather that Srinivasan—an Indian man—was the most qualified progressive judge of all.

He stated, “I’m sorry about my words choices. These undermine my message” Reason.

Shapiro apologized to all those who were hurt by his poor phrasing. Georgetown placed him on unpaid leave in the midst of an investigation. This was Shapiro’s first week in the position. He had worked previously as vice president at Cato Institute.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education denounced the university’s suspension and stated that it was against academic freedom principles.

FIRE stated in a statement that “when it comes to protected speech there is nothing you should investigate.”

There are many voices in the center, on the left and right that have come to the same conclusion. The New York TimesMichelle Goldberg and Nikole Hannah Jones, Atlantics Adam Serwer. s Bari Weiss. s Eugene Volokh.

Before the scandal, Shapiro was secured by the Federalist Society’s participation at the UCHastings event. Although they were only informed of it a few days before it took place, the BSLA had ample time to respond in force and stop it from happening.

As National ReviewNate Hochman, a student, notes that the students released additional demands, including mandatory intensive training in critical race theory for faculty as well as students.

At one point, Morris Ratner—UC Hastings’ dean of academics—attempted to quiet the students. Although he was impressed by their passion, Ratner said that protestors were allowed to use signs to demonstrate, but asked the students to permit the event to proceed as per college policies.

Ratner said, “Free speech is essential, and includes the right of me to use the expressions I see in these signs.” I applaud all of you who wish to voice your opinions. There is a way to do that consistent with our institutional codes and norms…”

The students interrupted him and loudlybooed.

Ratner said, “We have a Q & A section here.” I know that Professor Little will directly confront the speaker about some of his views, so there’s a Q andA.

These students ignored the advice.

“It’s too bad that a heckler’s veto prevailed here, but I’d welcome the opportunity to return to Hastings—or anywhere else—to discuss the Supreme Court, constitutional law, and other areas where I may have expertise,” Shapiro tells Reason.

UC Hastings released a statement reaffirming it’s commitment to free speech, and noting that protesters had violated student code.

“Disrupting an event to prevent a speaker from being heard is a violation of our policies and norms, including the Code of Student Conduct and Discipline, Section 107 (‘Harmful Acts and Disturbances’), which the College will—indeed, must—enforce,” said Ratner in a statement.

Ratner declined to give me more information about the course of action, so I asked him.

You might think that law students would appreciate more provocative ideas from other student activists than others, but at UC Hastings this wasn’t the case.