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Nineteen UC-Hastings Law Faculty Object To University Statement In Support Of Free Speech After Ilya Shapiro Shoutdown

Nineteen UC-Hastings Law Faculty Object To University Statement In Support Of Free Speech After Ilya Shapiro Shoutdown

“the Administration’s community email, The College is Committed to Academic Freedom and Free Speech, does not represent our priorities”

We have covered extensively the attempts to get Ilya Shapiro fired at Georgetown Law Center because of his critique of Joe Biden’s pledge to consider only black women for the Supreme Court vacancy created by the planned retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer. The reaction at Georgetown came under widespread criticism:

In the most recent fallout, there was an ugly scene not at Georgetown, but at UC-Hastings Law School, Ilya Shapiro Shouted Down, Prevented From Speaking At UC-Hastings Law School: “Get Out!”.

Here’s an excerpt from the 45-minute shoutdown and disruption which prevented Shapiro from speaking, and resulted in termination of the event:

This conduct violated not just Shapiro’s free speech rights, but also the free speech and association rights of the students who invited him to speak and the people who wanted to hear what he said. When students shout “we don’t want to hear from you,” the answer is not to come to the lecture or to walk out, not to prevent others who do want to hear what the speaker says. That’s a value on the wane at law schools throughout the country.

It was a pathetic display, made all the more pathetic because a professor present who was slated to debate Shapiro, Rory Little, voiced support to the protesters:

“I’m all for the protest here,” he said. A student asks him to repeat the statement for the cameras. He waves and smiles: “I’m all for it.”

Little declined comment when I asked him to explain what he meant by those statements, since it’s possible he supported a protest against Shapiro but not the shout down. A second email specifically asking if he supported the shout-down generated an out-of-office autoresponder and there has been no response.

After the event, the university Chancellor, Provost, and Dean of Students issued a campus email criticizing the shout-down as a violation of university policy. It reads, in part:

We write to you on reflection of what transpired at a noon event yesterday. As lead administrators of UC Hastings, a public law school, we are deeply committed to creating an inclusive environment, and we will do so in a manner that is consistent with the values of academic freedom and free speech at the heart of our mission as a center of higher learning.

While the range of permissible expression is not unlimited, it is very broad. UC Hastings’ Policy on Academic Freedom states in relevant part:

UC Hastings is committed to the principle that the pursuit of knowledge and the free expression of ideas is at the heart of the academic mission, whether in the classroom, in the selection of clinical projects and clients, and in research, scholarship, public presentations, and contributions to public fora. This is especially true when the ideas or subjects are unpopular or controversial in society, as orthodox ideas need no protection.

* * *

The suppression of unpopular views deprives students of necessary practical, academic, and professional development opportunities. Legal professionals must be able to engage with the full range of ideas, legal arguments, or policies that exist in the world as they find it. The goal of education, and especially legal education, is to develop a broad and deep understanding of, and ability to engage on the merits with, the full panoply of viewpoints that exist in our society, including those we might find abhorrent….

… Yet, Mr. Shapiro was prevented from speaking by some students who spent almost an hour shouting him down. The act of silencing a speaker is fundamentally contrary to the values of this school as an institution of higher learning; it is contrary to the pedagogical mission of training students for a profession in which they will prevail through the power of analysis and argument.

… Our intention as a place of learning is to find ways to express and address that pain that do not rely on stopping others from speaking. This can include expressions of speech through signs and passionate inquiry and debate during events.

Student organizations have the authority to invite whom they want to hear from, and the administration does not review or approve such invitations. We allow our registered student organizations to plan events and invite speakers to address the issues relevant to those student organizations without fear of censorship. The role of the administration is to help each and all of our student organizations with that endeavor, which includes providing space, resources, and other public safety measures. It is not the role of the administration to inquire about a speaker’s particular views and then to allow or disallow an event to occur based on those views. In fact, as a public law school, such a content-based evaluation would violate the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

We may not support Mr. Shapiro’s previously expressed views – some of which we personally find deeply offensive – but we support his right to speak on our campus….

Disrupting an event to prevent a speaker from being heard is a violation of our policies and norms, including the Code of Student Conduct and Discipline, Section 107 (“Harmful Acts and Disturbances”), which the College will—indeed, must—enforce. …

It was a pretty good letter, though it seems doubtful the perpetrators will have any repercussions for the shout-down.

Nineteen UC-Hastings law faculty members, including Little, did not think too highly of the university defense of free speech. In fact, they were pretty angry about it and penned a statement objecting to the university’s position. The statement (via Reason) is reprinted in full below.

It’s pretty clear that these faculty members put the feelings of listeners ahead of free speech and association rights, not to mention university policies protecting those rights. A sad commentary on the state of a significant portion of the professorship at UC-Hastings.

(emphasis added)

Dear Concerned Students,

We write in our individual capacity and not on behalf of the institution to explain where the Administration’s community email, The College is Committed to Academic Freedom and Free Speech, does not represent our priorities or articulate our commitments to providing you an equitable learning environment.

First and foremost, we condemn the recent comments from Ilya Shapiro regarding President Biden’s commitment to nominate an African American woman to the Supreme Court. We find Shapiro’s tweet unequivocally racist and misogynistic. We refuse to remain silent in the face of white supremacy. We wish you did not have to live in a society where vile, hateful, and ignorant speech directed towards communities of color is a regular occurrence.

While the Administration’s statement mentions in passing the pain experienced by communities of color the past two years, it does not discuss the law school’s role in perpetuating the marginalization of our current students. We are aware from conversations with our students of color over the years, and particularly our African American students, that they do not experience UC Hastings as a welcoming learning environment. As professors, we are committed to combating the implicit and explicit messaging UC Hastings students of color too often receive that they are being tolerated instead of embraced and valued. We recognize that these unwelcoming messages are expressed in the doctrines we teach, the context we may fail to provide when teaching them, in the comments made by some community members, and in an environment where so few of UC Hastings faculty and administrators share the life experiences of so many of our students or meaningfully engage in understanding them.

We write to affirm your right to an educational environment where you are nurtured as students and where you can thrive as future lawyers. We strongly believe in the essential value of free speech in an academic setting. We also recognize that context matters because speech does not exist in a vacuum; it happens within the context of unequal power and structural inequalities. Moreover, we understand that statements of commitment to diversity and inclusion ring hollow when salient issues of racial equity are ignored or discounted in the service of prioritizing the ideal of free speech.

UC Hastings has much work to do before a speaker such as Ilya Shapiro could represent just an abhorrent point of view, instead of appearing to be yet another painful reminder to students of color that the institution—through its actions and inactions—fails to convey that students of color belong here as full-fledged members of our community. We sincerely hope that the Administration will continue to work to gather a deeper understanding of the experiences of students of color and provide student leaders with the appropriate guidance and resources for engaging in productive dialogue meant to edify the diverse community that we are so lucky to have at this university.

In solidarity,

Mark Aaronson

Alice Armitage

Alina Ball

Richard Boswell

Betsy Candler

Veena Dubal

Nira Geevargis

Brittany Glidden

Miye Goishi

James Higa

Juan Carlos Ibarra

Rory Little

Shauna Marshall

Stefano Moscato

Karen Musalo

Christine Natoli

Ascanio Piomelli

Gail Silverstein

Linh Spencer

Reason adds: “According to the metadata, the document was created by Professor Ascanio Piomelli.”


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To get my license to practice law I was required, in addition to giving evidence that I was qualified (degrees, passing bar exam, no criminal record), to state & subscribe an oath to the US Constitution and to the state constitution.

These law professors violated their lawyer oaths. At the moment the 1A is part of the Constitution. If they wish it removed, let them go through the Article V process.

Fat chance that any board of bar overseers would ever take administrative action against these professors.

Steven Brizel | March 8, 2022 at 10:10 pm

The signers of this document do not believe in freedom of speech

So these professors have a commitment to providing an EQUITABLE learning environment. That means giving advantage to some, disadvantage to others, based on “structural racism” and such.

They want to “nurture” their black law students.

If some needed nurturing at age >20 in law school, I don’t need them as my lawyer.

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to artichoke. | March 8, 2022 at 11:56 pm

    How many of the black students are saying “we don’t need this, we can do this on our own”?

    The silence is deafening.

      JohnSmith100 in reply to The Gentle Grizzly. | March 9, 2022 at 7:37 am

      I bet that those students would not admitted based on academic and character merit. The same is true for many professors at colleges all over America.

      taurus the judge in reply to The Gentle Grizzly. | March 9, 2022 at 8:22 am

      Do not be surprised that much ( probably not all) of this silence is not the silence of “agreement” but the silence of knowing when its not advantageous to speak out against it due to the fallout.

      The left has shown in unswerving intent what they will immediately do to any who try to leave the plantation. A young fledgling up-and-comer is not capable of withstanding that onslaught for very long.

Law professors have sure become dumb, not to mention reactionary.

henrybowman | March 9, 2022 at 1:02 am

I guess the question that needs to be answer is: who runs this school?
The administration, or the inmates?
I don’t need to buy a vowel to solve this puzzle: it’s “insubordination.”

Leftists behaving precisely like Fascists, all the while screaming “Fascist” at people that actually support, and are willing to fight for, individual freedoms (particular freedom of speech) that no one on the Left has supported in decades.

One day, these students and others like them will be running the country. Thank a teacher.

    henrybowman in reply to JGO_KY. | March 9, 2022 at 11:15 am

    They’re already running portions of it that affect you, right now:

    Davison had to file a suit to get the FOIA information he requested, and that’s when he became a target of Loudoun County. Davison was then labeled “dangerous.” Debra Rose, a former congressional staffer and school board member went on the attack against Davison. She attempted to have him removed from a board meeting in 2015 for asking uncomfortable questions about the test results. The officer she instructed to remove Davison refused to do it. She then called the police while she was at her home to report Davison as a “threat” to her. She did not give police any specific information as to what kind of threat he posed but told him “he made her feel extremely uncomfortable,” according to the Post’s investigation.

    Straight crybullying playbook.

I hear your Shout Down, and I’ll raise you a Beat Down.

I had no clue where UC-Hastings was but I was not surprised when I looked it up to find “The University of California, Hastings College of the Law, is a public law school in San Francisco. Notable alumni include Kamala D. Harris. Our quad is the Ninth Circuit. Our stadium is City Hall.”

“the Administration’s community email, The College is Committed to Academic Freedom and Free Speech, does not represent our priorities”

LOL, how tone deaf.

Clearly “our priories are to silence those who express unapproved thoughts”

These clowns (I hate to call them ‘law professors’ as they don’t seem to be behaving like any law professors I have ever known or heard of) claim they are protecting “your right to an educational environment where you are nurtured as students and where you can thrive as future lawyers.” What lawyer has ever practiced in an environment where whining and running away from people who say things you don’t like was possible? Snowflakes can never be lawyers, anywhere. So what these professors are saying is that ‘we want to give you a worthless legal education so that you can leave here unequipped for the job market while we still can congratulate ourselves for being among the most virtuous law faculty in the country.’ Some teachers they are!

    thetaqjr in reply to HarvardPhD. | March 9, 2022 at 8:01 pm

    Vlad Putin is nurtured in such a way. He enjoys the safe space of a god. Was it Saturn who ate his own children, way before the French began eating theirs?

    He’s in a protected environment, his own safe space, silencing dissent, his “advisory” circle of sycophants ever more constricted, sycophants starkly euphemistic.

    Whereas Putin’s nuclear advantage threatens to destroy far away, external, humans and structures, Hastings, obviating Jimmy Carter’s killing development of the neutron bomb, those Hastings folks have developed a better bomb, one having to potential of destroying the West internally.

    It preserves I-beams and Bill Ayers-types, and irradiates to extinction, almost everyone else, for example, Professors Shapiro and Jacobson, maybe most folks here contributing, except we will not be targeted.

    More, folks are just as scared of Putin’s bomb as they are afraid of the woke neutrons.

Comanche Voter | March 9, 2022 at 1:25 pm

Second rate law school, definitely second rate faculty, and second rate students like Kamala Harris who passed the bar exam on–wait for it–her second try.

I’m embarrassed for these professors–I have no idea why they think this is appropriate, and I can’t imagine what kind of poor training they’re providing for their students. Graduating law students are going to find out that most clients don’t care about this kind of thing; and that you can’t shout down judges and other people you don’t agree with.

FWIW, the University of California, Hastings College of the Law has 172 full-time and part-time faculty. So 19 signers would be 11 percent of the faculty.