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US Judge Won’t Hire Yale Law Clerks Citing ‘Cancel Culture’ (1)

Sept. 30, 2022, 5:39 PMUpdated: Sept. 30, 2022, 10:01 PM

US appeals court Judge James Ho said he won’t hire law clerks from Yale Law School in the future citing “cancel culture.”

“I don’t want to cancel Yale. I want Yale to stop cancelling people like me,” Ho said, according to prepared remarks for a keynote address to Kentucky chapters of the conservative Federalist Society Thursday. The written remarks were reviewed by Bloomberg Law.

“Starting today, I will no longer hire law clerks from Yale Law School. And I hope that other judges will join me as well,” he said.

Ho, a prominent conservative appointed to US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit by President Donald Trump, took issue with how he said the school handled a protest of a panel discussion at Yale earlier this year featuring Kristen Waggoner of Alliance Defending Freedom and Monica Miller of the American Humanist Association.

Ho criticized Yale’s associate dean, who he said was present for the event but didn’t take action. “Yale not only tolerates the cancellation of views—it practices it,” Ho said.

Ho said he wasn’t talking about students currently attending Yale or who have already graduated, noting he’s hired from Yale before. He said his decision applies “going forward only.” He encouraged students thinking about law school to think about academic environments “that will help them grow.” Ho graduated from the University of Chicago Law School.

“If they want the closed and intolerant environment that Yale embraces today, that’s their call,” Ho said. “But I want nothing to do with it.”

Yale Law School didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ho’s unusual vow not to hire from Yale, first reported by the National Review, is attracting criticism from law professors who say it unfairly punishes students.

“It’s absurd to retaliate cancel culture, by canceling somebody,” Rory Little, a professor at UC Hastings Law and chair of the school’s faculty judicial clerkship committee, said.

Little added that it’s “remarkable” a judge that is involved in the Federalist Society would refuse to hire clerks from the school where the organization began. “It’s really not fair to the students,” Little said.

Arthur Hellman, a professor emeritus and federal courts scholar at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, said it may also run afoul of of the Judicial Canon that says judges should not “lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge.”

While that Canon typically refers to private interests like financial interests, Hellman said that it arguably covers a situation like Ho’s comments where a judge uses their role to influence the way society operates.

“And he’s very explicit that he wants Yale Law School in particular to change the way it operates,” Hellman said.

(Updates with additional comments from Little and Hellman.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at malder@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com