ABA Considers Law School Free Speech Proposal
The American Bar Association is considering a new proposal that would require all ABA-accredited law schools to support free speech for faculty, staff, and students.
Last week, the proposal achieved a significant milestone when the ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, responsible for overseeing law schools, unanimously voted to advance the free speech proposal to the ABA’s House of Delegates. The final approval is scheduled for February, Reuters reports.
WHAT THE PROPOSAL CALL FOR
While law schools have long protected the academic freedom of faculty, this new proposal would be the first to address free speech across the entire law school community, including staff and students.
Under the new proposal, law schools would be required to protect the rights of faculty, staff, and students to express controversial or unpopular ideas, fostering robust debate, demonstrations, or protests. Additionally, the new proposal requires law schools to forbid disruptive activities that impede free expression or significantly disrupt law school functions or activities.
WHAT SPARKED THE PROPOSAL?
In recent months, the Israel and Gaza conflict has further intensified clashes on campuses across the world. But free speech debates have long been a hot topic of discussion at law schools.
Earlier this year, students at Stanford Law School disrupted a scheduled speech by U.S. Circuit Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan, who was appointed by former Republican President Donald Trump. Stanford officials later issued an apology to the judge and implemented mandatory free speech training for students.
A similar incident occurred at Yale Law School, where a group of students disrupted a campus discussion by conservative speaker Kristen Waggoner—an incident that prompted two federal judges to later say they would not hire clerks from Yale.
Next Page: Could California law grads soon practice law without taking the Bar?
Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.