Yale Law School Bans Press, Asks Students Not To Record During Conservative Speaker Event

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Yale Law School (YLS) did not allow press or non-community members to attend an event featuring conservative lawyer Kristen Waggoner Tuesday afternoon and reportedly told students not to record the event in an attempt to minimize coverage, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Waggoner, CEO of conservative legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), spoke Tuesday alongside Nadine Strossen, former American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) president, about 303 Creative, a First Amendment case currently pending before the Supreme Court. YLS did not allow non-students or press to attend the event and told students not to take videos or photos inside the event after a previous event featuring Waggoner went viral for being disrupted by more than 100 protesters, the Washington Free Beacon reported. (RELATED: Colleges — And Students — Took An Axe To Free Speech In 2022. Here Are Some Of The Worst Examples)

“It’s one thing to take steps to protect against physical disruption,” Strossen told the Beacon. “But is there any evidence that members of the press were responsible for the disruptive protest in the past?”

The Federalist Society chapter, a student organization for conservative and libertarian law students, hosted the event. The group previously invited Waggoner to campus during the spring 2022 semester for a discussion about the Supreme Court case Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski.

The protest, which was recorded and circulated on social media, put the law school in the center of months-long debate about its commitment to free speech.

Two Trump-appointed judges later announced they would not accept clerks from YLS because of the school’s adherence to “cancel culture” rather than free speech. The school issued a statement in October outlining the steps it has taken to protect free speech rights for students and visitors which included developing resources to promote its free speech policies and making it “clear” that disrupting campus events is not tolerated.

Henry Robinson, a Yale student and member of the LGBTQ student organization OutLaws, sent a Jan. 17 email obtained by the Beacon which called the viral videos of the March protests a “doxxing disaster.” He explained in the email sent to the student group that OutLaws members met with school officials to discuss precautions that could be taken to minimize attendees being recorded.

The email informed members of the LGBTQ group that there would be no press at the event and that there would be no official recording of the event, according to the Beacon. The students requested that attendees be required to leave their phones at the door to prevent photos being taken of members, however the university declined to enforce a prohibition on “overt recording” aside from asking at the start of the event.

“We hope this helps clarify the state of play,” Robinson wrote. “If you have any questions as you gauge your own risk tolerances and how you want to show up to (or step back from) this event, please don’t hesitate to reach out to any of us on the board. We’re here for you.”

A Federalist Society chapter member told the Beacon that the school “wanted to avoid a circus” and that the chapter agreed to a students-only policy to minimize potential protest and “tension with the administration.”

All press decisions are allegedly made by the school’s Office of Public Affairs.

Tuesday’s event did not draw any protests, Robert Capodilupo, a Yale student, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“I am glad that we were able to have today’s event without any disruption,” he said. “It was great to see so many students engage with our speakers and their arguments in good faith.”

Waggoner told the DCNF that Tuesday’s event was “markedly different than last year’s event where panelists had to be escorted to safety” and that the panel “demonstrated to future attorneys that civil discourse among those who don’t agree on everything is not only possible, but highly profitable.”

“The open dialogue on the panel, followed by an intelligent, respectful question and answer session proved that a culture of free speech can flourish when civil debate is encouraged,” Waggoner said. “While only time will tell if the Yale administration is committed to long-term meaningful change, our hope is that this event begins a new era of tolerance for ideological diversity on campus.”

Yale, Robinson and Strossen did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment. OutLaws could not be reached for comment.

This story has been updated with comment from Yale student Robert Capodilupo and Kristen Waggoner.

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