Oh look, the people who screech about "cAnCeL cUlTuRe!!1!" are trying to squash free speech they don't like again.

On January 25, Stanford Law 3L (that's "third year law student") Nicholas Wallace sent a fantastic email to the school's listserv, promoting a fake Federalist Society event on January 6 called "The Originalist Case for Inciting Insurrection," featuring Josh Hawley and Ken Paxton.



The students at Stanford's Federalist Society chapter responded by asking to speak to the manager. Rather than take the loss after Wallace's hilarious email, three of the Stanford FedSoc officers complained to the administration, claiming Wallace had "clearly impersonated the Stanford Federalist Society" and "defamed the student group, its officers, Senator Josh Hawley, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton." The students also said they, "as officers of the organization, feel that our individual reputations have been harmed," but I'm pretty sure that line was actually meant for Donald Trump, Josh Hawley, Ken Paxton, and all of the other far-Right loons who tried to stage a coup earlier this year.

Honestly, if the FedSoc letter to the administration had also been a parody of the Federalist Society, it would have been hilarious. Unfortunately, it was all too real — and almost prevented Wallace from graduating with the rest of his class. Apparently the law students in the Stanford Federalist Society didn't see what a self-indictment it was for them to point out that people might think an email saying things like, "Although widely believed to conflict in every way with the rule of law, violent insurrection can be an effective approach to upholding the principle of limited government" and "riot information will be emailed the morning of the event" was promoting a real FedSoc event.


This week, civil rights group Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) got involved, sending a letter to Stanford about its fuckery. Stanford is a private school, so the First Amendment doesn't apply the way it would to, say UC Berkeley, but California law and Stanford's own policies do. In 1992, California passed the "Leonard Law," which requires secular private colleges to follow the same standards as public schools. (California is the only state with a law like this on the books.) Stanford's policies also say that students can't be disciplined for speech that is protected by the First Amendment.

Wallace's email is clearly protected speech, and it's shameful that it took anyone at Stanford Law more than 20 minutes to come to that conclusion. Parody and satire are protected speech and not defamatory, as courts keep telling Devin Nunes. But instead of stamping the whiny FedSoc letter "LOLNOPE, return to sender," Stanford decided, in the middle of finals, to make Wallace navigate the school's judicial process and to tell him that he wouldn't be graduating.

Thankfully, FIRE's letter and a piece at Slate stirred up a whole lot of rage at Stanford — and last night, the university capitulated, saying Wallace would graduate on time. After the announcement, Wallace sent out another listserv email, this time thanking his fellow students for their support and saying he hopes "to work with Stanford in the little time I have left to make sure that no other student is subjected to an abuse of process in this way again, and to develop better protections for students' freedom of expression," adding a post-script that this email was not satire.

Causing trouble on the listservs is part of going to law school in the 21st century, and Nicholas Wallace played his part masterfully. This former Northwestern Law listerv troll says A+ trolling abilities — and keep fighting for what's right. (And if this is all it takes to almost not graduate at Stanford Law, I wouldn't have lasted three weeks.)

[ The Email / FedSoc Letter / FIRE Letter / Slate ]

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Jamie Lynn Crofts
Jamie Lynn Crofts is sick of your bullshit. When she’s not wrangling cats, she’s probably writing about nerdy legal stuff, rocking out at karaoke, or tweeting about god knows what. Jamie would kindly like to remind everyone that it’s perfectly legal to tell Bob Murray to eat shit.
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