by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
More than 100 students at Yale Law School attempted to shout down a bipartisan panel on civil liberties, intimidating attendees and causing so much chaos that police were eventually called to escort panelists out of the building.
The March 10 panel, which was hosted by the Yale Federalist Society, featured Monica Miller of the progressive American Humanist Association and Kristen Waggoner of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative nonprofit that promotes religious liberty. Both groups had taken the same side in a 2021 Supreme Court case involving legal remedies for First Amendment violations. The purpose of the panel, a member of the Federalist Society said, was to illustrate that a liberal atheist and a conservative Christian could find common ground on free speech issues.
“It was pretty much the most innocuous thing you could talk about,” he added.
That didn’t stop nearly 120 student protesters from crowding into the event.
When a professor at the law school, Kate Stith, began to introduce Waggoner, the protesters, who outnumbered the audience members, rose in unison, holding signs that attacked ADF. The nonprofit has argued—and won—several Supreme Court cases establishing religious exemptions from civil rights laws, most famously Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission in 2018.
As they stood up, the protesters began to antagonize members of the Federalist Society, forcing Stith to pause her remarks. One protester told a member of the conservative group she would “literally fight you, bitch,” according to audio and video obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
With the fracas intensifying, Stith reminded the students of Yale’s free speech policies, which bar any protest that “interferes with speakers’ ability to be heard and of community members to listen.” When the protesters heckled her in response—several with their middle fingers raised—she told them to “grow up,” according to video of the event obtained by the Free Beacon.