Tag Archive for: FreeSpeechSuppression

Law Schools’ Heckling Trends Show Disturbing Future For The Legal System, Experts Argue

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Law schools that permit students to heckle and disrupt speakers fail to impress upon them the importance of free speech rights and could have a negative impact on the future of the legal profession, experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

In the past year, protestors have attempted to shut down speakers at Stanford University, Yale University, University of California, San Francisco and Georgetown University because of their political views. If law schools fail to teach students how to respect free speech during their time in school, that will be reflected in the legal profession when the students graduate, experts argue.

“As future lawyers, law students have an ethical obligation to respect the rule of law,” CeCe O’Leary, a Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) attorney, told the DCNF. “When law schools fail to enforce their own heckler’s veto policies, they abdicate their duty to teach respect for the law.”

Law schools should be “dedicated to resolving disputes through reasoned debate, not through shouting down contrary views,” Eugene Volokh, a law professor at University of California Los Angeles, told the DCNF.

“When we see law students acting that way, especially with impunity, that bodes ill for their future as lawyers, or the future of the legal system more broadly,” he explained.

Last week,  (SLS) students and the school’s Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Tirien Steinbach heckled Fifth Circuit Judge Kyle Duncan during a discussion about COVID-19, guns and Twitter. Steinbach responded to Duncan’s call for an administrator to calm the room by asking him to reflect on whether his speech was “worth the pain that this causes and the division” while students shouted phrases including “your racism is showing” and “respect black women.”

“What we saw at Stanford Law school forebodes a concerning future for the rule of law in this country,” Speech First Executive Director Cherise Trump told the DCNF. “The behavior by the disrupters and the apparent encouragement by campus leaders not only normalizes these childish tactics, but it also normalizes the idea that if someone holds a different opinion then they are your political enemy and should be eliminated from the field. This type of thinking is incongruent with American jurisprudence and could seriously threaten the reliability and confidence in our legal system.”

Stanford later apologized for the disruptions, prompting hundreds of students to protest Jenny Martinez, law school dean, by dressing in black and lining the corridors to stare her down. Several student groups rejected the apology and doubled-down on their support for the disruption and for Steinbach’s intervention.

“In veiled language, the law school threw its capable and compassionate administrators who were present at the event, and who interceded productively, under the bus, and expressed an intent to ensure that such disruptions do not occur again,” the Stanford National Lawyers Guild wrote.

The guild said in its letter that the disruption was “justified” because of Duncan’s “abhorrent” behavior.

“It is ironic that Judge Duncan repeatedly criticized protestors for being ‘disrespectful,’” the group wrote. “Judge Duncan’s record, jurisprudence, views, and personal conduct are beyond “disrespectful”: they are as antithetical to the social justice mission of [National Lawyers Guild] as it is possible to be.”

When students are permitted to disrupt speaker events, they are learning that “suppression, rather than reasoned debate, is the right way to resolve disputes,” according to Volokh. Heckling, while unconstitutional, is also a sign that law schools aren’t doing a good enough job at “educating students about their First Amendment rights—both what they include and what they do not include,” O’Leary said.

The First Amendment is a common hot-button issue when it comes to proposed laws. New York, for example, considered a law that would have censored “hateful conduct” on social media, but it was shot down by the district court in February.

The FBI toed the line of First Amendment restrictions when it colluded with Twitter to censor specific accounts and may have infringed on users’ rights, experts previously told the DCNF.

The trend of heckling and disregarding free speech rights goes beyond Stanford, and examples can be pinpointed at several other universities nationwide.

In March 2022, students at the the formerly-known University of California, Hastings College of Law, now UC San Francisco, heckled conservative legal scholar Ilya Shapiro by shouting and banging their hands on the table to drown him out. The protest, which violated the school’s event policy prohibiting disruptions, came in response to a tweet Shapiro made in January 2022 criticizing President Joe Biden’s promise to select a black woman as his Supreme Court nominee, after which Georgetown University placed him on academic leave.

Georgetown law students held a sit-in protest soon after to demand Shapiro be terminated, as well as reparations including a place for students to cry, the National Review reported.

The frequent disruptions “are symptoms of a deeper problem of ideological uniformity at most law schools, and an intolerance for dissenting (usually right-of-center) viewpoints,” Bill Jacobson, founder of conservative non-profit Legal Insurrection and director of the securities law clinic at Cornell University, told the DCNF.

Surveys find that students on college campuses are afraid to voice their opinions on campus for fear of retaliation by peers or faculty members, according to a survey conducted by free speech watchdog Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE). Broken down, the results revealed that conservative students are more likely than their liberal peers to feel like they can’t speak freely.

“Any law student who disagrees with woke DEI policies or activities on campus is completely silenced out of fear of being shouted down or targeted,” Trump added. “And keep in mind, the students who are encouraged to use tactics like this by administrators with political agendas will take these tactics with them as they enter the professional world. They will become attorneys, Supreme Court clerks, judges, lawmakers, and advisors.”

More than 100 students protested a free speech panel at Yale Law School in March 2022 that featured Monica Miller, American Humanist Association legal director, and Kristen Waggoner, president of the conservative legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom.

“Free speech is essential to a free society. It curbs gov’t power. Lawyers must engage with people & ideas they dislike,” Waggoner wrote in a Monday Twitter thread. “We can’t have a working justice system if advocates choose bullying & intimidation over logic & persuasion. Yet this is what some law schools teach & model.”

Public universities are bound by the First Amendment while many private universities, such as Stanford, “promise First Amendment-style free speech rights,” Haley Gluhanich, FIRE program officer, told the DCNF. These policies, however, are not always enforced.

“The problem is that these policies are not enforced because the vast majority of disruptions and shout-downs target conservative speakers who are unpopular with administrators and faculty,” Jacobson told the DCNF. “Empty words and platitudes from administrators make the problem worse, because it sends a message that no matter the policy, disruptions of conservative speakers have no negative consequences. I doubt this attitude of indifference would happen if the speakers being disrupted were left-of-center.”

Gluhanich said that schools that fail to protect speech “would only further encourage hecklers to use such tactics to stifle expression they disagree with, which will lead to fewer speakers, fewer ideas being shared, and fewer conversations.”

“When law schools not only allow, but in some cases encourage, their students to heckle and shout down speakers, they embarrass the entire legal profession,” Kimberly Hermanm, SLF general counsel, told the DCNF.

Georgetown, Yale and Stanford University did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

This article was published by The Daily Caller and is reproduced with permission.

Judge Orders Phoenix to Stop Censoring People For The Super Bowl

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

On Thursday [2/9], an Arizona trial court judge ruled in favor of a small business owner represented by the Goldwater Institute against the city of Phoenix and its Super Bowl Censorship Ordinance. The judge found the ordinance violated free speech rights and unconstitutionally delegated power to the National Football League (NFL) and Super Bowl Host Committee.

The ordinance barred residents from placing signs on their own property without first getting approval from the NFL and the Host Committee—two private entities that Phoenix empowered to choose what kind of speech people were allowed to engage in.

Declaring the ordinance “an unconstitutional prior restraint on speech and an unconstitutional delegation of power,” the court gave the city 48 hours to review businessman Bramley Paulin’s request to put up an advertising sign at his business—and to do so without restricting what he’s allowed to say.

Judge Bradley Astrowsky found:

“There is no legitimate government interest in content-based regulation of signs, let alone regulation of signs based on the content preferences of private businesses that are given special privileges by the government. Courts have recognized two substantial government interests that can sometimes justify regulations on commercial signage: public safety and aesthetics…

In summary, the City created the need for this litigation by enacting an unconstitutional resolution. They further exacerbated the problem, by only choosing to remedy their error when it was too late for Plaintiff to apply to exercise his right to speech. The City’s offer that Plaintiff can file his temporary sign application only if permitted by a private entity renders the application of an otherwise facially constitutional resolution to be unconstitutional. Accordingly, Court intervention is required. Given the delay already occasioned by the City and the testimony provided by David Williams that the City typically responds to an application for temporary signage within three to five days, the Court will order an expedited consideration of Plaintiff’s applications. When confronted with a constitutional flaw in a law, Courts should try to limit the solution to the problem. Ayotte v, Planned Parenthood of N. New England, 546 U.S. 320 (2006). This is what this Court does here.”

Phoenix officials first adopted the Super Bowl Censorship Ordinance last fall, declaring a section of downtown a “clean zone” in which people were prohibited from putting up a sign without having it reviewed and approved by the NFL and the Host Committee. Because those are private businesses, though, the ordinance effectively gave for-profit companies the unrestricted power to choose what messages they were willing to allow in a large section of one of the nation’s biggest cities. Bramley, a business owner in the area, hoped to sell space for advertising signs to businesses—but they shared concerns regarding the city’s prohibition on free speech.

When Bramley sued the city, asking a judge to declare the ordinance unconstitutional, the city assured him that it would change the law. So Bramley agreed to a brief postponement of the lawsuit, expecting the city to repeal the ordinance and respect freedom of speech. But that’s not what happened. Instead, city officials simply moved the goalposts. They changed the ordinance to eliminate the NFL’s power to directly approve signage. But through its permitting process, the city indirectly still allowed the Host Committee—which, like the NFL, is a private business—the same power to approve or disapprove of messages. So, Bramley returned to court, and in a brief trial on Wednesday morning, proved that the city was unconstitutionally restricting his freedom of speech.

“I’m relieved the court has ruled against the city’s attempt to let private organizations decide what I can and cannot say on my own property,” Bramley said after hearing this morning’s news. “The city should have never allowed this to happen in the first place: it’s wrong for the government to let the NFL and other private groups censor business owners like me, or any residents of the downtown area.”

The case was especially urgent because the Super Bowl is now only days away, meaning that each hour reduced Bramley’s ability to put up the advertising signs. In fact, due to the city’s attempts to run out the clock, he has already lost some potential contracts, although other advertising opportunities still remain. Given the approaching deadline, Bramley asked the court to order the city to process his application for a sign immediately—without requiring Host Committee approval. The judge agreed. “The City shall make a decision concerning Plaintiff’s applications within 48-hours,” the order declares.

This article was published by Arizona Daily Independent and is reproduced with permission.

Destroying American Democracy – An Inside Job

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Over the last few years, there has been much written about the destruction of American democracy. Frequently the threat has been of alleged interference in U.S. elections by Russia, China or other state actors. Government agencies, in the name of election integrity, were assigned to identify and disrupt these foreign intrusions. As more and more information is revealed about these agencies, it seems that America’s Intelligence Community participated in these activities domestically, and in a way that poses a grave threat to both election integrity and American democracy.

Just last week it was revealed that the FBI again withheld pertinent information from the American public, for past two months, until after the November 8, 2022 federal election. As with the Bureau’s reported cover-up of evidence influence-peddling reportedly found on Hunter Biden’s laptop, agents knew, since November 2, 2022, about at least some of the three sets of classified material that illegally found their way into the garage and library of President Joe Biden and into the Penn Biden Center think tank at the University of Pennsylvania — to which anonymous members of the Chinese Communist Party have donated $54.6 million.

Their existence only became known this week, after the newly elected Republican-majority House of Representatives announced that it would hold hearings on “how the [Justice] department handled investigations into classified materials found at former President Donald Trump’s Florida home and those found at President Joe Biden’s office in a Washington think tank bearing his name and his Delaware home…”

In addition, the recent release of the “Twitter Files” has raised at least two major concerns regarding actions by the Intelligence Community. The first is that the wall of separation between the Intelligence Community and the U.S. media has not only sprung a leak, it has totally collapsed. The report that officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) met weekly with Twitter executives to coordinate information is totally inappropriate. Would officials from the ODNI review, affirm or label certain sets of information as false? When ODNI was created, no one intended its officials to have a role in these types of discussions.

It also appears that intelligence officials in recent years have politically weaponized intelligence. The combination of a politically weaponized Intelligence Community, operating hand-in-hand with organizations that are the main gateways for information to millions of Americans, poses a serious threat to American democracy and the integrity of our elections.

Let us just briefly look at the steep slope of lying, deceit and corruption that has seeped into the leadership of the U.S. Intelligence Community.

First, there are not enough words to praise our Intelligence Community and the men and women who risk their lives to keep America safe. These are the rank-and-file professionals that form the core of the Intelligence Community. Most are dedicated to the mission of gathering the necessary information to protect our nation. Their leaders have a responsibility to serve these individuals. Too often, however, as the current array of whistleblowers indicates, those leaders have let these individuals down.

Imagine their reaction in 2013 when, in response to a question from Senator Ron Wyden to then-Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper about whether the National Security Agency (NSA) collects “any type of data on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans,” Clapper answered, “No sir, not wittingly.” Clapper, who had been given the question the previous day, was asked after the hearing if he wanted to amend the answer, and declined. It was shortly thereafter that a massive NSA program containing millions of pieces of Americans’ data was revealed. Clapper was caught in a huge lie — to U.S. Senator Wyden and the American people.

On January 12, 2017, CNN reported that President-elect Donald Trump had been briefed by DNI Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and NSA Director Michael Rogers. The topic: “Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Donald Trump.” It was intended to inform the President-elect that these allegations “are circulating among intelligence agencies, senior members of Congress, and other government officials in Washington.” The briefing also touched on other major allegations they claimed were “circulating.”

Having this false information — some of which the FBI actually altered — in the public domain was evidently intended to damage Trump. The Russian “hoax” allegations would haunt and damage the Trump presidency for almost two years. Clapper himself stated:

“I express my profound dismay at the leaks that have been appearing in the press … they are extremely corrosive and damaging to our national security.”

Clapper also released a statement that neither he nor anyone else in the Intelligence Community were responsible for the leaks. How did this highly classified information, then, get into the public domain?

A House Republican investigation provides the answer. Clapper denied leaking the dossier but admitted to discussing the dossier with CNN correspondent Jake Tapper and perhaps other journalists in early January 2017. Later in 2017, Clapper would go on to join CNN as a “national security” contributor and CNN would receive an award for its reporting at the White House Correspondents’ dinner.

Today we know that the “Russia hoax” was a lie. After a 22-month investigation, no evidence of collusion between any element of the Trump campaign and Russia was uncovered. The supposedly compromising evidence had never existed; the information in the “Steele dossier” was false — and the FBI had known it was from the start. The entire fabrication had been an attempt to attack and politically weaken Trump.

In October 2020, shortly before the elections 51 former intelligence professionals had even signed a joint letter stating that the Hunter Biden laptop had “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” They stated that their national security experience made them “deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case.” They went on:

“If we are right, this is Russia trying to influence how Americans vote in this election, and we strongly believe that Americans need to be aware of this.”

The New York Times raised questions about the authenticity of the materials found on the laptop. Bill Evanina, the National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director, had indicated in August that Russia was trying to denigrate the Biden campaign. All these manufactured “facts” were apparently intended to create circumstances where reasonable people would have to conclude that the Hunter Biden laptop was Russian disinformation.

Signatories of the 2020 letter included Clapper, Brennan, Michael Hayden, Jeremy Bash and David Buckley. Clapper and Brennan are familiar names. They were involved in the January 2017 briefing to President Donald Trump on the fake Steele dossier. Jeremy Bash and David Buckley are worth mentioning because they continue to play significant roles in domestic and national security areas in the U.S. government. Buckley was the majority staff director on the House Select Committee investigating January 6th. Bash has been named to co-chair a government commission to review the war in Afghanistan.

The fraudulent efforts by the U.S. government, Clapper, Brennan and the 49 others — along with Hillary Clinton, her campaign committee, the Democratic National Committee and the suppression of the media and social media (here and here) — to influence the public unfortunately met with some success. For almost two years, the authenticity of the material found on Hunter Biden’s laptop was questioned. Today, its authenticity has been verified; the information is real and damning. As summarized by the New York Post:

“Yes that letter from the Dirty 51 had all the classic earmarks of a disinformation operation, all right – one designed to ensure Joe Biden won the presidency. And it was essentially a CIA operation, considering 43 of the 51 signatories were former CIA.”

One final example of the Intelligence Community involving itself in domestic politics comes from the recent release of the “Twitter Files.” According to tweet #20 of the third tranche released:

“This post about the Hunter Biden laptop situation shows that Roth not only met weekly with the FBI and DHS, but with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.”

Tweet #17 states: “executives were also clearly liaising with federal enforcement and intelligence agencies about moderation of election-related content.”

Finally, the FBI paid Twitter $3.5 million reportedly to “handle requests from the bureau.”

We now know what happened. Twitter suppressed discussion of the Hunter Biden laptop story and suppressed conservative messaging, while at the same time it appears the FBI, DHS and the ODNI had literally had set up shop at Twitter.

The American people should be outraged. This level of collaboration between federal law enforcement and a private sector company on controlling speech is terrifying. Having our Intelligence Community, which is supposed to be focused on foreign intelligence collection, involved is even more terrifying.

DNI James Clapper lying to the American people in 2013 about government surveillance of them, the promoting of the Russian hoax theory in 2017 by CIA Director Brennan, DNI Clapper, FBI Director Comey and others, the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story by 51 former intelligence professionals, and the close working arrangement between the FBI, DHS and the ODNI in 2020-2022 raises a staggering series of questions:

Can our government, law enforcement, and the Intelligence Community still be trusted?
Have those federal government agencies literally weaponized law enforcement and intelligence against political opponents in the U.S.?
Has more than one solitary person — former FBI attorney Kevin Clinemith, for altering an email — been held accountable for these egregious abuses of power?
Why wasn’t there a more powerful response from the Intelligence Community and the law enforcement community about the disinformation from the 51 former intelligence professionals?
Who authorized the cozy relationship between law enforcement, the intelligence community with Twitter?
Who in these government agencies reviewed and approved of the output and decisions coming from these joint efforts?
Were political appointees in the review loop?
Who has the records, notes and decisions that emanated from these groups?
It is clear that our law enforcement community needs to be investigated, but most importantly we need to investigate how our Intelligence Community has evolved from having literally a non-existent relationship with speech in America to being inside the room determining what speech is allowed.

There also needs to be a significant investigation by an outside, non-government group to understand how far this massive government overreach into free speech and election manipulation went. Clearly the government has been influencing what we get to see and hear. It needs to stop — now — before our democracy is destroyed.

This article was published by Gatestone Institute and is reproduced with permission.