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US federal judge calls student ‘appalling idiot’ after Stanford University speech went wrong

A conservative judge who attempted to speak at Stanford Law School recently was interrupted by a number of protestors, who booed during his speech and heckled him.

user iconLauren Croft 20 March 2023 Big Law
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US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan, appointed to the bench by Donald Trump, could barely get a word in and ended up in heated debates with students at a recent event at Stanford Law School.

In a number of videos uploaded to Twitter, some with more than 5 million views, the judge can be seen (and heard) labelling angry students “juvenile idiots”, saying that “in this school, the inmates have gotten control of the asylum” and eventually calling a student an “appalling idiot” as he left.  

After less than half an hour, the judge called for a university administrator to help control students, and while associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion Tirien Steinbach told students that interrupting Duncan J could mean violations of free speech, she also told the judge his work had “caused harm” before telling students: “If you do choose to stay here, I do think we should give space to hear what Judge Duncan has to say, and I hope that also you will take the question and answer and comments section to say what you need to say and ask the questions you need to ask.”


The judge was unable to finish his speech, and after a brief Q&A, where one student asked: “I fuck men, I can find the prostate. Why can’t you find the clit?”, he was escorted out of the university by federal marshals, who were reportedly there to protect him.  

Duncan J was asked to speak at the university by Stanford’s student chapter of the Federalist Society on “Guns, COVID and Twitter” — but after announcing the speech, the group received over 70 emails from students compelling them to cancel the in-person event, alleging that the judge “proudly threatened healthcare and basic rights for marginalised communities”, as reported by The Fire.

The judge has previously come under fire in the US for misgendering a transgender person in court and ruling that she was unable to submit updated legal documents with her preferred pronouns on them.

As reported by The Daily, before Duncan J’s speech, two student groups organised on-campus protests, chanting: “When our trans neighbours are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” before and during the event.

In posters put up around campus, Duncan J was called a right-wing advocate for conservative laws against women, immigrants and the LGBTI community.

Duncan J has since spoken out against the event — and told the Free Beacon: “Don’t feel sorry for me. I’m a life-tenured federal judge. What outrages me is that these kids are being treated like dogshit by fellow students and administrators.”

He also called on the school to discipline the students who disrupted his talk and to fire the school’s associate dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion, who stepped in during the event to chastise him and deliver what Duncan J described as a “bizarre therapy session from hell”, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Stanford Law Dean Jenny Martinez later released a statement to students, confirming the school was reviewing the incident.

“The school is reviewing what transpired and will work to ensure protocols are in place so that disruptions of this nature do not occur again, and is committed to the conduct of events on terms that are consistent with the disruption policy and the principles of free speech and critical inquiry they support,” the statement said.

Following this, Stanford president Marc Tessier-Lavigne and dean Martinez sent the judge a joint letter apologising, writing that “staff members who should have enforced university policies failed to do so, and instead intervened in inappropriate ways that are not aligned with the university’s commitment to free speech”. 

“We are taking steps to ensure that something like this does not happen again. Freedom of speech is a bedrock principle for the law school, the university, and a democratic society, and we can and must do better to ensure that it continues even in polarised times,” the letter stated.