Utah Sen. Mike Lee and AG Sean Reyes urge Yale Law School to punish students who protested conservative president

The dean of Yale Law School said the student protest did not violate the school’s free speech policy.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Attorney General Sean Reyes have signed an open letter urging Yale Law School to punish students who protested a conservative lecturer on campus.

Utah Senator Mike Lee and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes added their names to an open letter to Yale Law School demanding penalties for students who disrupted an event featuring a Conservative lawyer last month.

On March 10, about 120 Yale students protested the appearance of Kristen Waggoner, legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian organization that the The Southern Poverty Law Center has been deemed a hate group. Wagoner represented a Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding, a case she argued in the U.S. Supreme Court.

More than half of the school’s students signed an open letter criticizing the Federalist Society’s decision to invite Wagoner to speak and condemned the presence of armed police at the protest. Heather Gerken, Dean of Yale Law School said the protest was ‘unacceptable’ behavior by students but they had not violated the school’s free speech policy.

A spokesperson for Reyes quoted the letter directly to explain why the Utah attorney general added his name.

“What happened at Yale Law School on March 10, 2022 is shameful. But it creates an opportunity for you (Dean Heather Gerken and Yale Law School) to send a clear message to the country about the importance of free speech and civil discourse,” they said.

Lee’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

In addition to Lee and Reyes, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, several members of the United States House of Representatives, five governors and more than two dozen other state attorneys general have also signed on. The letter was written by the same group responsible for the Philadelphia Declaration, a document that denounces the persistence of the “culture of cancellation” in American society. More than 1,400 people signed the letter at Yale.

“Instead of engaging with the panelists, a shocking number of Yale law students hurled constant insults and obscenities at them.” reads the letter.

The description of the event in the letter is mainly based on a first report by the conservative Washington Free Beacon. This report has been credibly debunked by other publications, several videos and the official report of the incident by the school. The signatories of the letter are demanding that the school revise its version, so that it is more in line with the Free Beacon story or retracts it altogether.

The incident drew condemnation from all corners of conservatism. Senior U.S. Circuit Judge Laurence Silberman, a noted conservative, urged fellow judges to think twice before hiring any of the students who participated in the protest for the internships, Reuters reported. The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board condemned the incident saying, “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.”

Lee, Reyes and the other signatories vehemently opposed the decision not to discipline students for the protest and urged school administrators to rethink the action.

“We urge you to take concrete action to correct the course of Yale Law School. Our nation desperately needs the next generation of lawyers, lawmakers, judges, and Supreme Court justices to be shaped by the character and values ​​that underpin the American legal profession and a free society,” it read. in the letter.

In addition to revising or withdrawing the school’s narrative, the letter urges school officials to condemn student behavior and “take appropriate disciplinary action.”

Lately, Lee has focused on the perceived censorship of conservative voices. He and Cruz recently sent a letter to DirecTV executives asking if the decision to drop the far-right One America News Network was politically motivated.

Jon J. Epps