DIE Speech Suppression at Stanford


David Lat:

What did Judge Duncan have to say for himself in general? In a phone interview this afternoon, he made several points to me:

  • “I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me because I had to endure a bunch of people jeering at me. I did think it was outrageous and unacceptable, but nobody should feel sorry for me. I’m still going to be a judge, and I’m still going to decide my cases.”

  • “I do feel bad—and outraged—for the Stanford FedSoc students. They are awesome people who just want to invite interesting judges to come talk to them. They’re a small group, obviously way outnumbered. They are the ones who lack power and status at Stanford Law. It’s ridiculous that they can’t get treated with civility, and it’s grotesquely unfair.”

  • “I get where my critics are coming from, and I understand why they don’t like me. They claim that I am marginalizing them and not recognizing their existence. But this is hypocritical of them, since that’s exactly what they are doing to their classmates in FedSoc.”

  • “I get the protesters, they are socialized into thinking the right approach to a federal judge you don’t agree with is to call him a f**ker and make jokes about his sex life. Awesome. I don’t care what they think about my sex life. But it took a surreal turn when the associate dean of DEI got up to speak…. She opens up her portfolio and lo and behold, there is a printed speech. It was a set up—and the fact that the administration was in on it to a certain degree makes me mad.”

  • “I later heard that the associate dean of DEI was claiming two things. First, she claimed that I didn’t have a prepared speech and was just there to stir up trouble. It was a long flight out to Stanford, I’m not a professional rabble-rouser like Milo Yiannopoulos, and I’m not trying to sell a book. I actually had a speech, it was on my iPad, and I was going to be talking about controversial cases handled by the Fifth Circuit that present difficult issues because the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on them is in flux.”

  • “Second, she claimed that the fact that two U.S. marshals showed up at the event was a sign that I’m a rabble-rouser and disruption always happens when I speak. But I didn’t bring or invite these marshals; these marshals from the Northern District of California just showed up after getting a tip-off. I have never been protested like that at any other law school, I have known of other conservative judges who have spoken at Stanford without any problems, and I spoke there in 2019 without any problems. So I was lulled into a false sense of security.”

  • “You don’t invite someone to your campus to scream and hurl invective at them. Did I speak sharply to some of the students? I did. Do I feel sorry about it? I don’t.”