The Federalist op-ed: I Thought I Could Be A Christian And Constitutionalist At Yale Law School. I Was Wrong, by Aaron Haviland (3L, Yale Law School):
I am a third-year student at Yale Law School. Before law school, I attended the Naval Academy and the University of Cambridge, and I served in the Marine Corps. I am also a member of my school’s Federalist Society chapter. ...
[M]y friends and I sent out a school-wide email announcement about a guest speaker event for the upcoming week. A lawyer from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the Christian legal group that has won numerous First Amendment cases at the Supreme Court, would be discussing Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
Given that ADF has been smeared as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, we expected some controversy. But what we got was over-the-top even by Yale standards.
The first condemnation was from Outlaws, the law school’s LGBTQ group. They attacked the Federalist Society for inviting ADF to campus and called for a boycott of the event. Over the next 24 hours, almost every student group jumped onto the bandwagon and joined the boycott. ...
In addition to the boycott, some students said people who supported ADF’s position should no longer be admitted to the law school. One student emailed a list of the Federalist Society board members (publicly available information) so students would know whom to “thank” for this event.
The event took place two days later. Around 30 people attended. The boycotters decorated the front door with rainbow posters, but mostly stuck to protests and support groups in other rooms. The one disruption occurred near the end of the event, when three students walked in, rifled through empty pizza boxes, and left with a couple leftovers. On their way out, one of the protestors blew us a kiss and gave us the middle finger.
Compared to the undergraduate events that often make the news, our campus controversy was relatively tame. But it still left scars. The amount of vitriol and cyberbullying that came their way brought a couple of my classmates to tears. Some didn’t feel safe on campus. Those of us in our third year of study continued to count down the days to graduation. ...
I came to Yale Law School feeling optimistic and grateful for the opportunity. I knew that I would be in the intellectual minority, but I hoped that I could reasonably disagree with and learn from my peers. A lot of smart people come to this school, I thought to myself. Although we held different political beliefs, we probably shared a common passion for the rule of law.
I was wrong. And now I am deeply disappointed. ...
Every email announcement the Federalist Society sent out met a snarky, vitriolic response by progressive students. Members of the first-year class were routinely bullied by their peers. In one case, a student searched through the LinkedIn profile of a conservative classmate, saw the conservative had a connection to ADF, and shared that information with the entire class. Others then demanded a list of all law students who had connections to ADF.
This harassment has become almost routine and takes place with the full knowledge of the school administration. Occasionally, the administration steps in and releases a statement about the importance of civility and community. Yet the threats and intimidation persist, and the perpetrators feel no consequences.
Law school is supposed to be a place for serious thinkers, and you would think that the number one law school in the country should be a cut above the rest. But too often, the adults are nowhere to be found. ...
I will graduate in three months, and I do not want to carry this bitterness with me when I go. It helps that I truly have no regrets about attending Yale. I have been afforded tremendous professional opportunities that would have been unavailable anywhere else.
I have made a close group of friends whom I trust. We share a bond borne out of three years of shared adversity and frustration. Finally, I have been privileged to study under professors I genuinely respect and admire because of their commitment to intellectual freedom and civil disagreement.
But then I walk back to campus for a class and see a protest sign, or I open another email smearing the Federalist Society. Then I feel viscerally angry about what this school has put my friends and me through. It will take a while to finally let go of this anger, and I probably need to put some distance between me and this school. For now, I will just try to stick to my studies, support my friends, and count down the days to graduation.
Christian Headlines, Student Says a Christian Can’t Survive at Yale Law School
Aaron Haviland ’19 from Yale Law School on Vimeo.