Stanford Law School’s website touts its “collegial culture” in which “collaboration and the open exchange of ideas are essential to life and learning.” Then there’s the culture I experienced when I visited Stanford last week. I had been invited by the student chapter of the Federalist Society to discuss the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, on which I’ve served since 2018. I’ve spoken at law schools across the country, and I was glad to accept this invitation. One of my first clerks graduated from Stanford. I have friends on the faculty. I gave a talk there a few years ago and found it a warm and engaging place, but not this time.
When I arrived, the walls were festooned with posters denouncing me for crimes against women, gays, blacks and “trans people.” Plastered everywhere were photos of the students who had invited me and fliers declaring “You should be ASHAMED,” with the last word in large red capital letters and a horror-movie font. This didn’t seem “collegial.” Walking to the building where I would deliver my talk, I could hear loud chanting a good 50 yards away, reminiscent of a tent revival in its intensity. Some 100 students were massed outside the classroom as I entered, faces painted every color of the rainbow, waving signs and banners, jeering and stamping and howling. As I entered the classroom, one protester screamed: “We hope your daughters get raped!”