Bloomberg Law
March 22, 2023, 4:57 PM

Stanford Mandates Free Speech Training After Protest of US Judge

Madison Alder
Madison Alder

Stanford Law School is requiring all students to attend educational programming on free speech after protesters interrupted a speech by a conservative federal judge earlier this month.

The law school will hold “a mandatory half-day session in spring quarter for all students on the topic of freedom of speech and the norms of the legal profession,” Stanford Law School Dean Jenny Martinez said in a public letter to students Wednesday.

Associate Dean Tirien Steinbach, who spoke at the March 9 event with US Judge Kyle Duncan, “is currently on leave,” Martinez said.

The event, hosted by the school’s Federalist Society chapter, made headlines after videos appeared online of Duncan, a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, facing off with protesters supporting LGBTQ rights.

Martinez and Stanford University’s President Marc Tessier-Lavigne later apologized to Duncan in a March 11 letter, saying the disruption was “inconsistent with” school policy that allows students protest but not disrupt speakers.

One video of the event, posted by a video of the event posted by the conservative Ethics & Public Policy Center, shows Steinbach stepping in and speaking to the room. She told Duncan “your advocacy, your opinions from the bench, land as absolute disenfranchisement of their rights,” referring to the students. She also told Duncan he was welcome in the space.

In her letter, Martinez said she was concerned about “hateful and threatening messages” Steinbach received. Martinez also said staff will receive training.

The role of administrators present at future events “will be to ensure that university rules on disruption of events will be followed, and all staff will receive additional training in that regard,” Martinez said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at; John Crawley at

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