The Volokh Conspiracy

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Free Speech

Federalist Society Panel on "Discussion, Coercion, and the Pursuit of Truth" at Law Schools

The panel was moderated by Fifth Circuit Judge James Ho, and included former Solicitor General Paul Clement, Prof. Renee Lettow Lerner, legal journalist David Lat, lawyer Jay Edelson, and me.


Here's the description:

Recent events at a number of law schools have raised concerns about civility and respect for opposing views. Many law schools have expressed their commitment to "fostering an environment that values the free expression of ideas," and have promised "consequences" for disruptive behavior, including Yale Law School. But are existing policies and practices effectively enforced and up to the task? Are law schools creating an environment that encourages the free discussion of ideas?

Do law schools owe their students a grounding in civility, a practice endorsed by bar associations throughout the country? Does tolerance of disruptive behavior and bullying conflict with these schools' commitment to fostering an environment that supports free expression? If law schools fail to teach students to engage respectfully with each other, or to appreciate diverse perspectives on important questions, where will students learn it? Has tolerance for ideological coercion on campus turned law schools into an informal training ground for future bad behavior that bar associations and courts will have to police?

Our experts addressed these and other important issues that relate to the role of law schools in promoting civility, a practice that future lawyers will be expected to employ.


– Paul Clement, Partner, Clement & Murphy, PLLC.
– Jay Edelson, Founder & CEO, Edelson PC.
– David Lat, Founder, Original Jurisdiction.
– Prof. Renée Lettow Lerner, Donald Phillip Rothschild Research Professor, George Washington University Law School.
– Prof. Eugene Volokh, Gary T. Schwartz Distinguished Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law.
– Moderator: Hon. James C. Ho, Judge, United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.