A U.S. judge delivered a speech at a university on March 24, a few weeks after students and a top staffer prevented him from doing so at Stanford University.
U.S. District Judge Kyle Duncan, a Trump appointee, told listeners at the University of Notre Dame that there’s a “vital tradition of free speech in this country” and that students have the right to protest him.
“It’s a great country, where you can harshly criticize federal judges and nothing bad will happen to you. You might even get praised or promoted,” he said. “But make no mistake. What went on in that classroom on March the ninth had nothing to do with our proud American tradition of free speech. It was rather a parody of it.”
Duncan started to deliver a lecture at Stanford Law School earlier in March when students began heckling him so loudly that he was unable to continue.
Multiple staff members did not intervene.
Stanford Law School Dean Jenny Martinez later said the way the event unfolded “was not aligned with our institutional commitment to freedom of speech.”
After blowback from some students and staffers over her statement, Martinez offered a lengthy letter reiterating her stance. She noted that protests are allowed, but not ones that disrupt events.
“The president of the university and I have apologized to Judge Duncan for a very simple reason–to acknowledge that his speech was disrupted in ways that undermined his ability to deliver the remarks he wanted to give to audience members who wanted to hear them, as a result of the failure to ensure that the university’s disruption policies were followed,” Martinez said.
She said that the apology, and the policy it defended, was “fully consistent” with the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment and that apology, and the policy it defends, is fully consistent with the First Amendment, which protects the right to free speech, and California’s Leonard Law, which bars private colleges from imposing rules that would curtail First Amendment rights.