Davis: Bring Accountability To Woke Law


“Protest” does not accurately describe the recent disgusting actions by woke Stanford Law students during a planned talk by U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Judge Kyle Duncan—it was a mob of students who shouted down the federal appellate judge, preventing him from speaking and endangering his physical well-being. Federal marshals had to escort Judge Duncan from the building out of fear for his safety. Are these really the future leaders of our country?

Stanford Law School, which is usually ranked among the top three, did nothing to quell the mob. In fact, one administrator told Judge Duncan that the students had a valid point, while several other administrators sat and watched. Tirien Steinbach, Stanford Law’s associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), told Judge Duncan that he is guilty of causing “harm” because of his opinions. One would think a Standford Law dean would be clever enough to come up with a better argument—but the DEI in her professional title reveals she is not a serious person.

“Your opinions from the bench land as absolute disenfranchisement” of the students’ rights, Steinbach said from the podium as the mob stood in the room. Stanford Law’s DEI dean said Judge Duncan is “tearing the fabric of this community.” She went on to ask Judge Duncan whether the “juice” is “worth the squeeze.” This was clearly an attempt for a figure vested with institutional authority to intimidate Judge Duncan in front of a braying mob.

Judge Duncan later gave an interview wherein he correctly stated that Steinbach acted to support mob rule. “In other words, it’s just a folksy way of giving these students a heckler’s veto,” Judge Duncan said. “If they hate you enough, then surely it wasn’t worth your coming to campus.”

Indeed, they were hecklers—and about as eloquent as drunk hecklers at a midnight comedy club. One student held a sign that said, “Duncan can’t find the clit.” Others shouted that he was a “scumbag.” Again, this is at Stanford Law School.

It was reported that “one source of the students’ ire was Duncan’s refusal, in a 2020 opinion, to use a transgender sex offender’s preferred pronouns.” This is what supposedly justified shouting down a sitting federal appellate judge and endangering his physical safety. Let’s be clear: Nothing justifies the students’ mindless anger toward Judge Duncan. The pathetic way Stanford Law students expressed themselves is an embarrassment to one of the nation’s premier law schools, and to the legal profession more broadly.

This sort of radicalism on campus is far too common at law schools throughout the country. Last year, a similar outburst at Georgetown University Law Center had students staging a sit-in and calling for a “designated place on campus to cry.” These woke, entitled babies ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Many top law schools are now removing the LSAT admission requirement, which is an obvious attempt to get ahead of the Supreme Court‘s expected ruling against affirmative action later this term. With reduced aptitude and achievement criteria, it becomes easier for universities to practice unlawful racial discrimination through the use of quotas—and to pave the way for useless administrators, like DEI Dean Tirien Steinbach.

Law schools ought to serve as bastions of intellectual thought, curiosity, and diversity. But the reality is there is no diversity of opinion on law school campuses today. Mere openness to alternative viewpoints is punished. Incuriousness is rewarded. Differing views are, quite literally, shouted down.

This isn’t frivolous stuff. U.S. presidents may nominate these Stanford Law students to serve on the federal judiciary one day. They may lead our nation’s government and large corporations. Many will have the opportunity to work as law clerks within the federal judiciary, influencing the direction of our laws and constitutional rights.

“The elites set the tone of our society, like it or not. The law students we graduate from Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and the like are the ones who, inevitably, will be occupying the commanding heights of government, academia, big business, philanthropy, and so on,” Judge Duncan said. “So what they think is acceptable behavior matters immensely. And if it doesn’t seem to matter as much right now, just wait five or ten years. Then they will have percolated up through the ranks and will be calling the shots. And then you will see this illiberal mindset more and more in action.”

There’s only one way to solve this, and that is through quick and severe consequences for all those complicit in this abomination. Unless Stanford Law expels the students in the mob that forced Judge Duncan to be escorted with U.S. marshals, then federal judges should refuse to hire Stanford Law students for clerkships.

Similarly, Stanford Law must show the door to DEI Dean Tirien Steinbach. Law school deans should not encourage lawless mob rule. The future of America’s justice system relies on the leaders that institutions like Stanford Law produce. It’s time for the nation’s law schools, like Stanford Law, to recognize their responsibility to the country and the legal profession—not to pampered, sheltered brats.

Mike Davis is the founder and president of the Article III Project, which defends constitutionalist judges. As the former chief counsel for nominations to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), he served as the staff leader for Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation. Davis served as a law clerk to Justice Neil Gorsuch, both on the 10th Circuit and Supreme Court.