Two lawyers who were shouted down by more than 100 Yale Law School students over a free speech panel shared a dark prediction about free speech in the U.S., in an op-ed published by Daily Mail on Wednesday.
“We recently went to Yale Law School and what we experienced should frighten – not just legal professionals- but everyone interested in America’s future,” constitutional lawyers who’ve both argued before the Supreme Court Kristen Waggoner and Monica Miller wrote.
“We are also lawyers on opposite sides of the ideological spectrum, and yet one of us joined the other’s successful effort to secure a major civil rights victory for all Americans.”
Miller works for the American Humanist Association, a progressive institution, while Waggoner works for the conservative non-profit Alliance Defending Freedom. The duo spoke on a panel hosted by The Federalist Society at Yale earlier this month to “illustrate that a liberal atheist and a conservative Christian could find some common ground on free speech issues,” the Washington Free Beacon reported, citing a member of The Federalist Society.
The duo discussed the recent Supreme Court case, Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski, which dealt with freedom of religion and free speech on college campuses. (RELATED: ‘An Un-American Thought’: Scarborough Rips Lack Of Free Speech In College Classrooms)
“We came to the Yale event with the goal of demonstrating that religious and political opponents can do great things when they respectfully work to find common ground,” the duo wrote. “But instead of encountering students who wanted to question us about the case, we encountered a crowd of activists who, perplexingly, tried to silence us.”
The pair noted how students were making “physical threats” and “hurled insults” forcing the pair to be escorted out of the school by police.
BEASTMODE: Yale Law professor Kate Stith tells protesting students to “grow up”
— Washington Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) March 16, 2022
“We strongly defend the First Amendment rights of students to speak, assemble, and even peacefully protest when appropriate,” Miller and Waggoner wrote. “But we also understand as litigators – and law students should recognize that – that one cannot effectively argue their position if they refuse to hear the other side of the argument.”
“The refusal to engage with someone that holds a different point of view is an intellectual sickness that has obviously infected public debate, but to see that this illness has also taken hold of aspiring lawyers is shocking.”
“Critical thinking, intellectual curiosity, persuasive advocacy, and civility are hallmarks of exceptional lawyers and leaders,” the op-ed continued. “Respectful argumentation is the essence of what lawyers and judges are called to do. Those ideas underpin the U.S. adversarial legal system, which demands vigorous argument. The entire system collapses when one side chooses to rhetorically burn it all down, as these students chose to do.”
“Perhaps most disturbingly of all, a room full of America’s future lawyers showed a complete misunderstanding of free speech. The First Amendment is not realized unless everyone, regardless of their viewpoint, is able to participate in free expression. By trying to silence us, the Yale law students put aside reasoned, civilized discourse. And to what end?”
The pair concluded by noting future leaders must learn to respectfully debate hot topic issues while on campuses or else they will never be able to do so in the real world.