by William A. Jacobson at legalinsurrection.com
The Stanford Law School student shout-down of Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan was disgusting, and the conduct of Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion Tirien Steinbach in berating the Judge for showing up was atrocious. See this post for the gory details, Stanford Law Students, With Support From Diversity Dean, Shout Down Visiting Appeals Court Judge Because He’s Conservative.
But it’s worse than it appears. The abuse hurled at Judge Duncan is a direct outgrowth of the abuse hurled at conservative Supreme Court Justices, as I documented in Stanford Law Student Shout-Down Reflects Normalization Of Intimidation Of Conservative Judges.
That toxic national environment was evident at Stanford Law where Federalist students had their images plastered on protest posters with an implicit threat to target them.
The DEI problem at Stanford Law School runs deep, as it does at the university.
There have been many calls to fire DEI Dean Steinbach, and she was criticized (but not by name) in the university apology letter. But why should she be fired when she was doing precisely what one would expect DEI bureaucrats to do, treat every issue including a speaker’s right to speak and listeners’ rights to hear as subject to the subjective progressive feelings of allegedly “marginalized” identity groups.
South Texas College of Law Houston Prof. Josh Blackman makes that point in a persuasive column at The Volokh Conspiracy (Reason),
But Stanford cannot absolve itself of this problem by sacrificing Steinbach as a scapegoat…. Rather, Stanford created this problem by establishing, reinforcing, and growing the DEI bureaucracy.
When a university empowers DEI to deem speech “harmful,” DEI will deem speech “harmful.” When a university empowers DEI to designate spaces as “safe,” DEI will deem spaces as “safe.” When a university allows DEI to treat some people as “oppressors,” DEI will treat those people as “oppressors.” When a university teaches students that “harmful” speech has no place on a campus, the students will take steps to prevent “harmful” speech on their campus. This protest was a direct byproduct of what students have learned for years.
Every word in Steinbach’s speech reinforces these core planks of DEI. And her speech was obviously prepared in advance. She was so confident in her beliefs that she delivered those remarks, knowing she would be recorded. Steinbach no doubt thought she was on the right side of the university….
… we have witnessed the endgame of DEI. These officials are empowered to extend their tendrils into every facet of an academic institution, with or without the backing of the Dean. Their mission is not to promote learning or academic inquiry, but instead to advance a specific ideology, which I refer to as DEI deology. These beliefs are not trying to achieve a goal of neutrality. Rather, consistent with anti-racist teachings, they seek to use their newly-acquired power to elevate preferred messages and to deplatform
Firing DEI Dean Steinbach may bring satisfaction to Judge Duncan, who was the recipient of her improper conduct, as well as the broader conservative legal community. But it will do nothing to change the culture at Stanford Law School, though it may save the law school from further reputational damage. It may stave off an informal boycott by federal judges as happened to Yale Law School.
Given the mealy-mouthed initial reaction by the Stanford Law School Dean, there is no reason to believe anything will change in the DEI culture at Stanford Law School by firing DEI Dean Steinbach. Maybe it’s better for the greater good of society to let Stanford Law School bear the consequences of its obsession with DEI, rather than removing a figurehead and pretenting that the problem is solved.