Stanford University issued an apology after Fifth Circuit appellate judge Kyle Duncan was shouted down during a speaking appearance at Stanford University on March 9.
Duncan, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, was interrupted by students during his appearance on campus.
“So you’ve invited me to speak here, and I’ve been heckled nonstop,” Duncan said during his appearance.
“I’m just asking for an administrator,” Duncan said before he was drowned out by shouting students.
Tirien Steinbach, Stanford University’s Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, arrived after Duncan reportedly requested an administrator. However, Steinback subsequently accused Duncan of causing “harm.”
“Your opinions from the bench land as absolute disenfranchisement” of the students’ rights, Steinbach said, according to the Washington Free Beacon. She further accused him of “tearing the fabric of this community.”
Steinbach, who continued criticizing Duncan and appeared emotional at times, insisted the university believes in “free speech” including speech that “denies humanity.”
“Do you have something so incredibly important to say, [worth the] division of these people?” Steinbach said as students snapped their fingers in response.
At one point, in response to a woman who called the judge’s behavior “disgusting,” Duncan said, “You are an appalling idiot, you’re an appalling idiot.”
This is Stanford’s elite law school. Watch the egregious behavior of the administrator, but also the students. They feel comfortable treating the speaker (a judge) this way. They will eventually be judges. Wokism will wreck havoc on society. pic.twitter.com/fnahtKx6vU
— Mythinformed (@MythinformedMKE) March 11, 2023
Neither Steinback nor Dean of Stanford Law School, Jenny Martinez, immediately responded for comment from the outlet.
“According to fliers put up across campus by activists citing the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights — the U.S.’s oldest civil rights coalition — as a judge and lawyer, Duncan has been a right-wing advocate for laws that would harm women, immigrants and LGBTQ+ people,” The Stanford Daily reports. “The fliers cite examples of his attempts to deny same-sex couples adoption rights and how he served as lead trial and appellate counsel in a case that stopped transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice at state institutions.”
The Washington Free Beacon reported that some students also took issue with Duncan’s refusal to use the preferred pronouns of a transgender sex offender in a 2020 opinion.
In an exclusive interview with the outlet, Duncan referred to the incident as a “bizarre therapy session from hell,” further noting “if enough of these kids get into the legal profession, the rule of law will descend into barbarism.”
“What outrages me is that these kids are being treated like dogs–t by fellow students and administrators,” he said.
On Saturday, Stanford President and Bing Presidential Professor, along with Martinez, issued a formal apology to judge Duncan.
“We write to apologize for the disruption of your recent speech at Stanford Law School,” the letter states. “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.”
Stanford has officially apologized for this event in writing. pic.twitter.com/WjTzsDTPU2
— Tom Odell (@TomOdell) March 12, 2023
The letter noted that university disruption policy does not allow students to “prevent the effective carrying out” of a “public event” via heckling or other forms of interruption.
“In addition, staff members who should have enforced university policies failed to do so,” the letter reads, noting Steinbach’s behavior was “inappropriate” and not “aligned with the university’s commitment to free speech.”
“We are taking steps to ensure that something like this does not happen again,” the letter concluded. “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.”