Federal judge says Yale Law students who disrupted free speech panel should be 'noted': email

The judge's email came following reports that a group of about 100 Yale Law students disrupted part of a bipartisan panel on civil liberties

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A federal judge said law students who disrupt free speech panels should be "noted," in an email to colleagues following reports that a group of about 100 Yale Law students protested a bipartisan panel on civil liberties last week.

"The latest events at Yale Law School, in which students attempted to shout down speakers participating in a panel discussion on free speech, prompt me to suggest that students who are identified as those willing to disrupt any such panel discussion should be noted," Judge Lawrence Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said in an email to his fellow Article III judges, according to a tweet from Slate senior writer Mark Joseph Stern.

Silberman continued: "All federal judges—and all federal judges are presumably committed to free speech — should carefully consider whether any student so identified should be disqualified from potential clerkships."

Stern went on to share various responses to Silberman's email from Obama and H.W. Bush-backed judges.


"Thank you for your email. I couldn't agree more," Judge John Walker, a Reagan and H.W. Bush nominee on the 2nd Circuit, said in one reply. Another judge requested that respondents stop clicking "reply all" so as not to clog inboxes, according to Stern.

H.W.-backed nominee Judge Donald Graham said he does not "intend to get into the fact finding process" of determining a particular student's protest activities, adding, "I have enough trials in my District," Stern tweeted.

On March 10, Yale Law School’s Federalist Society hosted a panel on civil liberties featuring Monica Miller, of the progressive American Humanist Association, and Kristen Waggoner, of the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), as The Washington Free Beacon initially reported. About 120 student protesters showed up with signs attacking the ADF to shout down the speakers, with one law student reportedly recorded on audio telling a member of the conservative group that she would "literally fight" her, according to the outlet.


The event’s moderator, Yale Law School Professor Kate Stith, had to pause the event due to the intensifying commotion. Stith can be heard in a video reminding attendees of the school’s free speech policies, which prohibit any protest that "interferes with speakers’ ability to be heard and of community members to listen." Her comments were met with backlash from demonstrators.

Waggoner told the Free Beacon that she thought "[i]t was disturbing to witness law students whipped into a mindless frenzy."

More than 120 students at Yale Law School protested a bipartisan free speech event on March 10. ( Yana Paskova/Getty Images, File)

More than 120 students at Yale Law School protested a bipartisan free speech event on March 10. ( Yana Paskova/Getty Images, File)

A member of the Federalist Society said the panel was supposed to show that a liberal atheist and a Christian conservative could agree on issues of free speech.

The Yale Daily News reported that most of the protest activity occurred during the beginning of the event, prompting "at least" four armed police officers to show up. More than 400 Yale students later condemned the police presence in an open letter, the outlet reported.


Yale Law School told Fox News Digital in a statement that "[w]hen visitors to the Yale campus bring their own security, as in this case, University policy requires the Law School to inform Yale Police."

"We then work with the police to determine the appropriate level of support for the particular visitor and/or event," the school said. "The Law School follows the University’s free speech policy and procedures, which includes a three strikes rule. As soon as the moderator read the University’s policy for the first time, the students exited the event, and it went forward. Members of the Administration are nonetheless in serious conversation with students about our policies, expectations, and norms."

Fox News' Stephen Sorace contributed to this report.