Yale Law School Students Interrupt Event, Demand Right To Talk Over Speakers

Yale Law School’s Federalist Society chapter invited two speakers on campus to talk about a recent Supreme Court case. Uzuegbunam v. PreczewskiIt is a matter of religious freedom. Kristen Waggoner was the general counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal organization that supports conservative social and religious causes. Monica Miller represented the American Humanist Association of (AHA), a secular organisation.

Waggoner sometimes takes opposing views, but the issue in the present case was one of religious freedom. It brought together supporters on the right and left for civil liberties. Chike Umuegbunam had received assistance from both ADF (and AHA) because his college prohibited him to proselytize on campus. The scheduled discussion about the case—which was decided 8–1 in Uzuegbunam’s favor—was meant “to illustrate that a liberal atheist and a conservative Christian could find common ground on free speech issues,” according to The Washington Free Beacon

However, the law students refused to acknowledge this common ground. Dozens protested and heckled participants. Kate Stith (a Yale professor of law) was trying to introduce Waggoner, Miller, when they interrupted her. Stith soon became annoyed with students and tried to correct them. She told one student to “grow up,” which provoked fury among the crowd.

The video above shows students claiming that they are entitled to question or protest speakers and not interrupt them. Stith charged students with “disrupting free speech” and the students retorted that they were “disrupting us.”

The Free BeaconMore:

The protesters proceeded to exit the event—one of them yelled “Fuck you, FedSoc” on his way out—but congregated in the hall just outside. They began to shout, dance, clap and bang on the walls making it hard to hear the panel. Chants of shame, shame and protection for transkids echoed throughout the school. Students and an anonymous professor said that the loud noise disturbed nearby classes, exams and faculty meetings.

Ellen Cosgrove was the associate dean at Yale’s law school and she attended the whole panel. Although the protestors’ cacophony was clearly against Yale’s free speech policies she didn’t confront them.

There were times when it looked like the situation was about to escalate into physical violence. Protesters blocked the exit, according to two Federalist Society members. They also threw their arms around other participants as they tried leaving.

Waggoner described it as disturbing seeing law students get whipped into an inexplicable frenzy. I didn’t feel safe leaving the room without security.

The panelists were eventually escorted out by police officers. The students were furious at Yale’s presence. Nearly 400 law students wrote an open letter accusing Yale. This was allegedly because Yale police officers are more likely to hurt members of the LGBTQ Community (at least according the letter) and because the Southern Poverty Law Center has recognized the ADF as an anti-LGBTQ hate organization. These labels are not applied by the SPLC with much care.

According to the letter, “Understandably a large swath YLS student felt that FedSoc’s decision giving legitimacy to this hatred group by inviting it general counsel to speak to YLS fundamentally undermined [our community’s] values of equity, inclusion and diversity at a time where LGBTQ youth are actively attacked in Texas and Florida.” “We are writing this letter because of the disrespectful and inappropriate presence of ADF students on campus as well as the dismissal of our peaceful actions by faculty members. Armed police officers were also called to the Sterling Law Building due to our peaceful protest.

The presence of officers on campuses is something that students have the right to protest. Students should be free to express their disapproval of any legal advocate that is against the LGBTQ community. The ADF certainly has made positions that could be described as such. However, law students must be capable of addressing these positions. Law students can’t shut down every voice that tries to express an opinion they don’t agree with. They shouldn’t leave law school thinking it is constructive to stay away from ideological enemies. As the Supreme Court case shows, trials can lead to strange relationships. Even passionate lawyers must still understand each other and be respectful.

Waggoner, in a statement to the The, stated, “Future attorneys should possess the critical thinking skills. Intellectual curiosity. Humility. And maturity to engage ideas and legal principles with which they disagree.” Yale Daily News. “Unfortunately, students at the Federalist Society event were hostile towards Professor Kate Stith and Monica Miller of the American Humanist Association. They refused to let others speak.

Yale’s latest fracas follows a U.C. incident two weeks earlier. Hastings, where law students prevented Ilya Shapiro, a libertarian-conservative legal expert, from debating Rory Little, a U.C. Hastings professor of law and progressive thinker. It is clear that the next generation of lawyers, judges and justices has not been able to hold their own. Stith’s frustration at the suggestion that they might “grow up” is hard to not sympathize.