What’s The Matter With KU Law?
I haven't spoken to my old friend Caleb Stegall, now a Kansas state Supreme Court Justice, in years, but his name popped up this morning in a news story a friend sent to me:
Supreme Court Justice Caleb Stegall has ended his teaching relationship with the University of Kansas School of Law in the aftermath of a controversy over a speaker that the student chapter of the Federalist Society brought to campus.
In a six-page letter sent to the law school dean, Stegall said he would not renew his teaching relationship with the school after a blowup over the Federalist Society's announcement it would host an attorney from an organization viewed by some as a "hate group."
Here is a link to Justice Stegall's letter. It's a PDF, so I have to provide excerpts by screengrab:
My lord, those distraught students are a bunch of crybullies who ought to have been put on notice that that kind of babyish, manipulative behavior would never be tolerated at an actual grown-up law school. The fact that they resorted to that tactic -- one that is commonly seen all over -- shows how decadent and weak the administrations of institutions have become. I would certainly hope never to hire one of those lawyers to represent me, lest they fall apart in court, weep, wail, gnash their teeth and pee their pants.
Justice Stegall is a staunch conservative, but he is an even stauncher classic liberal. I can tell you that from our private conversations, in which he pushes back hard against people on the Right who have lost faith in the classical liberal tradition. In the law school letter, Stegall cites a newspaper column he wrote defending a judicial nominee who faced criticism for having once represented a client accused of serious sex crimes. In that column, Stegall wrote that our system of justice grants even to despised minorities the right to counsel -- and that a lawyer who took up the defense of a hated defendant should not be punished for doing his duty. A system based on reason requires the ability for all people, even unpopular ones, to be listened to, especially in a court of law.
In the letter to KU Law, Stegall added:
This is massively important. This is the Live Not By Lies point -- that our liberal democracy is becoming functionally totalitarian as these crybaby Jacobins conquer institutions like law schools. I had a debate on television in Slovakia this morning, and listened as a Slovak academic denies that there is anything totalitarian about our liberal democratic societies today. I congratulated him on living in a country where people still tolerate dissent and prize debate, because that is not the case in America today -- and it won't be the case in Slovakia tomorrow, if the people here are not aware of what's coming.
Liberal democracy is not just a system. It's also a mindset, and it's institutions that inculcate that mindset in the people whose task it is to form. That is plainly not happening at KU Law. Alliance Defending Freedom is a completely mainstream Christian legal organization that defends religious liberty. It has been condemned as a source of "hate speech" by the deeply corrupt Southern Poverty Law Center, which tries to silence many people on the Right with these groundless, slanderous accusations. DEI departments function as political police designed to suppress speech that contradicts leftist ideology, and to suppress people who do same. I look forward to the day when institutions that want to be faithful to principles of fairness vital to the functioning of liberal democracy close their DEI commissariats.
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Justice Stegall, a KU Law graduate, ends his letter by saying that he cannot sit by silently while his alma mater is behaving in a way that "threatens the basic pillars of our profession." He's speaking out to defend the law, and liberal democracy.
If there were only a hundred lawyers with the courage of Caleb Stegall, we could turn back this tide of woke totalitarianism. I hope some are inspired by his letter, and find their voice. If not, we are going to a dark and violent place in America -- and the Left is dragging us there.