‘What happens on campus doesn’t stay on campus’: Federal judges refuse to hire Stanford Law grads

Federal Appeals Judges James Ho and Elizabeth Branch will no longer hire law clerks from Stanford Law after the March incident between DEI Dean Tirien Steinbach and Kyle Duncan.

As Ho reasons, ‘If a law school openly tolerates and even practices [viewpoint] discrimination, who would want to go to that law school? And why would we want to hire them?’

Two federal appeals judges have announced their decision to no longer hire law clerks from Stanford Law School, citing the school’s history of viewpoint discrimination. 

Campus Reform has covered the recent controversy at Stanford during which Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Tirien Steinbach disrupted and took over the on-campus talk of Federal Appeals Judge Kyle Duncan, hosted by the Federalist Society, last month. Since then, Steinbach has been placed on administrative leave.

In response, neither Judge James Ho nor Judge Elizabeth Branch will hire law clerks who have chosen to earn their degree at Stanford after this incident. This does not apply to currently matriculating students but rather to all those entering from Fall 2024 onward.

[RELATED: Justice Alito slams colleges and law schools for failing to protect free speech]

Ho is an appellate judge for the Fifth Circuit, and Branch serves on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Both are contributors to the Federalist Society, as is Duncan.

Last September, Ho and Branch were part of a group of 12 judges who announced that they would refrain from selecting law clerks from Yale University, citing free speech and intellectual diversity concerns, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Law schools like to say that they’re training the next generation of leaders,” Ho said in his formal address to the annual Texas Review of Law and Politics, where he announced his decision. “But schools aren’t even teaching students how to be good citizens—let alone good lawyers. We’re not teaching the basic terms of our democracy.”

Ho recognizes the practical effects of woke censorship in academia, especially in law schools.

“Students learn all the wrong lessons,” Ho notes. “They practice all the wrong tactics. And then they graduate and bring these tactics to workplaces across the country. What happens on campus doesn’t stay on campus. And it’s tearing our country apart.”

Schools like Stanford and Yale purport to be “the nation’s best institutions of legal education,” Ho says, and have significant influence over American law and politics. Four current Supreme Court justices and five current US senators are Stanford or Yale Law graduates, as are two former presidents, according to the Daily Mail.

The logical consequence of incidents like Steinbach’s treatment of Duncan, Ho reasons, is the need to ask the basic question: “If a law school openly tolerates and even practices [viewpoint] discrimination, who would want to go to that law school? And why would we want to hire them?”

Campus Reform Higher Education Fellow Rob Jenkins concurs, saying that “anyone who hires a Stanford Law School grad after [this incident] probably needs their head examined—unless that grad lists the Federalist Society or College Republicans on his or her CV.”

As Jenkins sees it, the Stanford incident portends a crumbling legal system in the future.

[RELATED: Stanford's investigation of students reading Mein Kampf is latest in string of controversies]

Imagine hiring a lawyer who is so fragile, he or she can’t even bear to hear an opposing argument. If a recent incident at Stanford University Law School is any indication, that may well be the future of the American legal profession,” Jenkins reasons.

"Apparently," Jenkins adds, "conservative students are the only ones who still understand common professional courtesy, the Constitution, and the adversarial nature of our judicial system."

Stanford Law’s DEI platform emphasizes that “[l]egal education must prepare students to work effectively in a highly diverse society still grappling with racism and other forms of inequality,” but it does not reference intellectual diversity or differences of opinion.

Ho, Branch, and Stanford have not responded to Campus Reform’s request for comment, but this story will be updated accordingly.

Follow Gabrielle M. Etzel on Twitter.