Stanford Law School Dean Jenny Martinez issued a new statement addressing the disruption of Fifth Circuit Court Judge Kyle Duncan’s speech, and the next steps that the law school will take.
Martinez’s statement comes after Fifth Circuit Court Judge Kyle Duncan was disrupted by both students and the dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
In response to the disruption, Duncan called for the students involved to be disciplined and for diversity, equity, and inclusion dean Tirien Steinbach to be fired. Meanwhile, the Stanford College Republicans also called for her firing.
In the new statement from Martinez, she responds “to many of the questions I continue to receive about why I apologized to Judge Duncan,” while also explaining why she stands by her apology and why “the protest violated the university’s policy on disruption.”
The letter goes on to read:
I articulate how I believe our commitment to diversity and inclusion means that we must protect the expression of all views. And, I outline some of the steps the school will be taking in the wake of this incident, including the adoption of clearer protocols for managing disruptions and educational programming on free speech and norms of the legal profession.
The first heading in the 10-page letter states “Academic Freedom, Free Speech, and Protests on University Campuses: Protest is Allowed but Disruption is Not Allowed.” Martinez goes on to say, “Some students contend that the judge invited the heckling with offensive comments or engagement with protestors.”
These arguments misunderstand the nature of the disruption policy. The policy would not be meaningful to protect the carrying out of public events and the right of attendees to hear what is said if it applied only when a speaker said things protesters in an audience found agreeable.
“The President of the University and I have apologized to Judge Duncan for a very simple reason – to acknowledge that his speech was disrupted in ways that undermined his ability to deliver the remarks he wanted to give to audience members who wanted to hear them.”
Another heading is titled “Academic Freedom, Free Speech, DEI, and the Role of University Administrators.” In this portion of the letter, Martinez writes, “The Federalist Society has the same rights of free association that other student organizations at the law school have.”
She also remarked:
Students calling for the law school administration to restrict the organization or the speakers it can bring to campus are demanding action inconsistent not only with freedom of speech but with rights to freedom of association that civil rights lawyers fought hard in the twentieth century to secure.
“Enforcement of university policies against disruption of speakers is necessary to ensure the expression of a wide range of viewpoints,” Martinez said before she also addressed the disruption of Judge Duncan directly, writing:
It also follows from this that when a disruption occurs and the speaker asks for an administrator to help restore order, the administrator who responds should not insert themselves into debate with their own criticism of the speaker’s views and the suggestion that the speaker reconsider whether what they plan to say is worth saying.
She also forcefully rebuked the disruption of Judge Duncan, stating:
We cannot function as a law school from the premise that appears to have animated the disruption of Judge Duncan’sn remarks — that speakers, texts, or ideas believed by some to be harmful inflict a new impermissible harm justifying a heckler’s veto simply because they are present on this campus, raised in legally protected speech, and made an object of inquiry.
In the final portion of the letter, titled “Next Steps,” Martinez explained how the law school will handle certain concerns. “First, Associate Dean Tirien Steinbach is currently on leave. Generally speaking, the university does not comment publicly on pending personnel matters, and so I will not do so at this time,” the section began.
“At future events, the role of any administrators present will be to ensure that university rules on disruption of events will be followed, and all staff will receive additional training in that regard,” Martinez also explained.
She also discussed the students who were involved in the disruption, writing, “Several factors lead me to conclude that what is appropriate here is mandatory educational programming for our student body rather than referring specific students for disciplinary sanction.”
“As one first step the law school will be holding a mandatory half-day session in spring quarter for all students on the topic of freedom of speech and the norms of the legal profession,” Martinez said before also adding, “A faculty committee will plan the session and invite speakers representing a range of viewpoints.”
Spencer Lindquist is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerLndqst and reach out at email@example.com