Yale law students for censorship

March 20, 2022 4:58 p.m. ET Yale Law School on the campus of Yale University...


Yale Law School on the campus of Yale University in New Haven.


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Yale Law School students recently interrupted speakers in an example of the cancel culture that is common on so many college campuses these days. Now comes a seasoned federal judge advising his judicial colleagues against hiring the protesting students for internships.

The March 10 panel was meant to be a debate on civil liberties. It was organized by the Yale Federalist Society and featured Monica Miller of the progressive American Humanist Association and Kristen Wagoner of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative organization that promotes religious freedom. The two largely agree on protecting free speech, despite their differences on other issues.

About 100 students heckled and attempted to shout at the panel and Federalist Society members in attendance. A protester told a member of the conservative legal group that she would “literally fight you, bitch,” according to the Washington Free Beacon, which obtained an audio and video tape of the heckling. Speakers were escorted from the event by police for their safety. It’s no exaggeration to say that the students were a political mob.

No punishment appears to come from Yale Law School, despite its ostensible policy banning protests that disrupt free speech. But the event prompted Senior Judge Laurence Silberman of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to write the following letter to all of her fellow Article III judges last week:

“The latest events at Yale Law School in which students attempted to yell at speakers participating in a free speech panel discussion prompts me to suggest that students identified as willing to disrupt such All federal judges – and all federal judges are presumably committed to freedom of speech – should carefully consider whether a student so identified should be disqualified for potential internships.

This should get attention at Yale and other law schools. Young woke men and women may not care about the First Amendment, but they do care about their careers. Judicial internships are postgraduate positions that pave the way to jobs in top law firms, state and federal governments, and later powerful judgeships. Court of Appeal internships, in particular, are highly valued and often provide a stepping stone to becoming a clerk to a Supreme Court justice.

Some readers may think that these students should be forgiven for the excesses of youth. But they are adults, not sophomores. They are law students who will soon be tasked with protecting the rule of law. The right to free speech is a fundamental principle of the US Constitution. If these students are so blinded by ideology that they cannot tolerate a debate about civil liberties on campus, the future of the American legal system is in jeopardy.

Individual judges choose their clerks, and some will no doubt think they can educate these progressive protesters. But Judge Silberman’s letter should, at the very least, warn these students that there may be consequences to becoming campus censors.

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Appeared in the March 21, 2022 print edition.

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