David Lat on the Latest Yale Law School Disruption of a Speaker

This is a superb analysis from his Original Jurisdiction newsletter. You can read the entire article, or here is a portion:

This is a report by Aaron Sibarium, Washington Free Beacon.

Yale Law School students attempted to intimidate and disrupt a panel discussion on civil liberties.

On March 10, the Yale Federalist Society hosted a panel featuring Monica Miller, a progressive American Humanist Association, and Kristen Waggoner, of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative non-profit that supports religious freedom. In a case before the Supreme Court in 2021 regarding legal remedies for First Amendment violations, both groups were on the same side. A member of Federalist Society stated that the purpose of this panel was to show how a liberal atheist could be allied with a conservative Christian on issues of free speech.

For additional coverage, see … Eda Aker and Philip Mousavizadeh’s article in the Yale Daily News and Robby Soave’s post over at Reason.

The coverage by the Free Beacon gives you the impression of a chaotic mob. However, if you look at the YDN coverage you will feel calm, peaceful protesters who are threatened and harassed by police. Based on the testimony of those who attended, truth lies somewhere in-between.

They were protesters These wereThey were disruptive both in the classroom as well as afterward to the corridor. However, unlike Hastings’ protesters, they eventually calmed down and were unable to “cancel” Yale. The event went on as planned.

Professor Kate Stith (moderator of Yale FedSoc’s event) deserves credit for this. She had to deal with this difficult situation, which was not an easy task. You can clearly see the video (via Free Beacon), when protesters began getting louder inside the classroom and claimed that it was their “free speech”, she reminded them the actual school free-speech policies. And she told them to “growup,” which was mocked. She informed the protesters that they could either (1) stay in the classroom, remain quiet during the speakers’ presentations, and ask questions during the Q&A, or (2) they could leave the classroom and gather in the hallway, as long as they did not disrupt the event….

[H]My big takeaway is from the most recent YLS controversy. The problem of free-speech in our law school’s is not only about the administrators. Administrators can’t resolve the problem on their own. Problems are deeper, and they have their roots in attitudes. students ….

Kristen Waggoner and Monica Miller, who were both panelists in the YLS event expressed dismay at how Yale students comported themselves. As Miller of the AHA—no fan of the ADF, which she noted during the panel has been designated a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center—told the Free Beacon, “As lawyers, we have to put aside our differences and talk to opposing counsel. You can’t communicate with your opponent if you don’t want to be an advocate.

Exactly—and I’m not sure how much I can add. ADF’s view on the same-sex marriage, parenting and gay men is something that I disagree strongly with. But I strongly defend the right of its leaders to speak and to participate in public events, and I think the treatment that Kristen Waggoner received at YLS was disrespectful and wrong….

Last thought. I don’t know how I feel about having to defend a free speech regime that requires people to listen to each other, regardless of their views. This is in contrast to free speech regimes where freedom belongs to the loudest. You would have expected—and hoped—that law students, as future lawyers, would understand the value of the former and the problems with the latter.

When these law students become lawyers, and many of them have to go to court or a negotiating table, they will have to listen to the other side—whether they like it or not, and no matter how “offensive,” “triggering,” or “violent” they find the views of the other side to be. Shouting down opposing counsel, then claiming that you’re just engaging in your own form of “free speech” or “zealous advocacy,” will not fly in the world beyond Yale Law School….