Stanford University: Law Student Investigated over Email Satirizing Federalist Society, Politicians

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Stanford University

On January 25, 2021, a student at Stanford Law School sent an email to a student listserv satirizing the law school’s chapter of the Federalist Society and two elected officials involved in the January 6, 2021, efforts to block certification of the presidential election. The email purported to promote a speaking appearance by Sen. Josh Hawley and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton nineteen days earlier, at which they were to defend “doing a coup.” After an officer of the Federalist Society chapter complained that the law student had “defamed” Sen. Hawley, A.G. Paxton, and the student organization, Stanford University put a hold on the law student’s diploma and initiated an investigation. FIRE wrote to Stanford on June 1, explaining that the email was satire protected by Stanford’s commitment to freedom of expression. On June 2, Stanford backed down, determining that the flyer was protected expression.