Dear Judge Duncan,
We write to apologize for the disruption of your recent speech at Stanford Law School. As has already been communicated to our community, what happened was inconsistent with our policies on free speech, and we are very sorry about the experience you had while visiting our campus.
We are very clear with our students that, given our commitment to free expression, if there are speakers they disagree with, they are welcome to exercise their right to protest but not to disrupt the proceedings. Our disruption policy states that students are not allowed to “prevent the effective carrying out” of a “public event” whether by heckling or other forms of interruption.
In addition, staff members who should have enforced university policies failed to do so, and instead intervened in inappropriate ways that are not aligned with the university’s commitment to free speech.
We are taking steps to ensure that something like this does not happen again. Freedom of speech is a bedrock principle for the law school, the university, and a democratic society, and we can and must do better to ensure that it continues even in polarized times.
With our sincerest apologies again,
Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Ph.D.[,] President and Bing Presidential Professor
Jenny Martinez[,] Richard E. Lang Professor of Law & Dean of Stanford Law School
Whelan also quotes a response by Judge Duncan:
I appreciate receiving Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne’s and Stanford Law Dean Jenny Martinez’s written apology for the disruption of my speech at the law school. I am pleased to accept their apology.
I particularly appreciate the apology’s important acknowledgment that “staff members who should have enforced university policies failed to do so, and instead intervened in inappropriate ways that are not aligned with the university’s commitment to free speech.” Particularly given the depth of the invective directed towards me by the protestors, the administrators’ behavior was completely at odds with the law school’s mission of training future members of the bench and bar.
I hope a similar apology is tendered to the persons in the Stanford law school community most harmed by the mob action: the members of the Federalist Society who graciously invited me to campus. Such an apology would also be a useful step towards restoring the law school’s broader commitment to the many, many students at Stanford who, while not members of the Federalist Society, nonetheless welcome robust debate on campus.
Finally, the apology promises to take steps to make sure this kind of disruption does not occur again. Given the disturbing nature of what happened, clearly concrete and comprehensive steps are necessary. I look forward to learning what measures Stanford plans to take to restore a culture of intellectual freedom.
For more on the underlying situation, see the reporting by David Lat (Original Jurisdiction).