U.S. District Judge Kyle Duncan hasn’t given up on speaking at universities despite being jeered and shouted down by left-wing student activists at Stanford Law School.
The University of Notre Dame announced that Judge Duncan will deliver a lecture on Friday titled “Free Speech and Legal Education in Our Liberal Democracy,” a topic undoubtedly related to his fraught experience two weeks ago at Stanford.
“The event is co-sponsored by Notre Dame’s Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government, the Notre Dame Law School’s Federalist Society Chapter, and the Federalist Society Freedom of Thought Project,” the university said in a statement.
Judge Duncan was met by about 100 student protesters who continually interrupted him as he tried to deliver a March 9 lecture hosted by the Stanford Federalist Society, a conservative student legal group.
When he asked for an administrator to intervene, he received a six-minute scolding from Tirien Steinbach, Stanford’s associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion. Judge Duncan ultimately left without delivering his speech, escorted by federal marshals.
Stanford’s president and its law school dean apologized to Judge Duncan, but critics including Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, have called for the university to go further by disciplining the students and firing Ms. Steinbach.
The Notre Dame lecture is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. EDT at DeBartolo Hall. Judge Duncan’s speech will be livestreamed on the Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government’s website.
“In-person attendance is open to the Notre Dame, Holy Cross, and Saint Mary’s community (campus ID is required),” the Notre Dame announcement said. “Admission is free, and takeaway lunch will be available. No backpacks will be permitted at the lecture.”
Judge Duncan described the Stanford debacle as a “struggle session,” referring to the violent denunciation rallies in Maoist China, and “public shaming” in a Friday op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.
“When the Federalist Society president tried to introduce me, the heckling began,” said the op-ed. “’The Federalist Society (You suck!) is pleased to welcome Judge Kyle Duncan (You’re not welcome here, we hate you!) … He was appointed by President Trump to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (Embarrassing!).’ And so on. As I began, the heckling continued. Try delivering a speech while being jeered at every third word.”
A former appellate chief for the Louisiana attorney general’s office, Judge Duncan said he was targeted because he defended in court the state’s traditional marriage law. As a judge, he rejected a request by a federal inmate serving time for receipt of child pornography to be referred to with female pronouns.
“As my opinion explained, federal courts can’t control what pronouns people use,” Judge Duncan said in his op-ed. “The Stanford protesters saw it differently: My opinion had ‘denied a transwoman’s existence.’”
He noted that the protests continued after he left, including a demonstration featuring masked students in black who formed a “human corridor” directed at Jenny Martinez, the law school dean, over her apology.
“The most disturbing aspect of this shameful debacle is what it says about the state of legal education. Stanford is an elite law school. The protesters showed not the foggiest grasp of the basic concepts of legal discourse: That one must meet reason with reason, not power,” Judge Duncan said. “That jeering contempt is the opposite of persuasion.”