Looking To Tamp Down Controversy, Yale Law School Restricts Access to Free Speech Panel
In March 2022, hundreds of students at Yale Law School disrupted a panel with Kristen Waggoner, a conservative lawyer who has argued religious liberty cases before the Supreme Court, arguing that her presence was a "slap in the face" to "queer students." Yale's response to the incident left the school with egg on its face: Though the protest clearly violated Yale's free speech policies, which do not allow protesters to disrupt speakers, not a single student was disciplined.
The restrictions suggest that administrators are looking to avoid a repeat of the blowup last year, which created a public relations nightmare for the law school after it was captured on video and audio and was reported by the Free Beacon. They also come as Yale Law School dean Heather Gerken has been reaching out to federal judges who have announced that, given what they view as the school's hostility to conservative views, they will no longer hire clerks from the school.
Yale's activist students are likewise looking to avoid a repeat of what one of them, Henry Robinson, called "last year's doxxing disaster," in which the Free Beacon posted footage of law students disrupting Waggoner's panel.
Robinson emailed members of the law school's LGBT group on January 17 to outline the "precautions" that had been put in place. "No press" signs will be "prominently displayed," and administrators will be on hand "to enforce this," Robinson said in the email, recounting what Debra Kroszner, the associate dean of the law school, told him and other students at a meeting. To be admitted to the talk, students will need to present administrators with a valid student ID.
The law school does have a formal media policy predating this event, which only allows press with "prior permission" from the school. It is not clear how often that policy is enforced—and while the law school does have signs that warn against unauthorized recordings, a high-ranking member of the Federalist Society said he didn't recall signs saying "no press." Nor is it normal for administrators to check every student's ID before an event, two students said.
The zealous enforcement of these rules appears to be the result of activist pressure.
Robinson's email also indicates that students pressed Kroszner to impose "additional safeguards"—including a "phones at the door" policy that would require attendees to surrender their devices before entering the event—though she declined to do so. She also declined to commit to making a statement in support of any students "doxxed" at the event, arguing it would draw "more media attention."
Activist Students want to be able to disrupt the proceedings without being outed by the press ... or as they claim ' doxing ' to hide from the consequesces of their blocking of Speech or commentary the students disagree with