Stanford Berated for Blocking Law Student's Graduation Over Satirical Flyer

Stanford's prestigious law school has been mocked for threatening to stop a student from graduating over a satirical flier they emailed around to the college mocking the Federalist Society, a conservative and libertarian group of lawyers and policymakers.

Nicholas Wallace, who was scheduled to graduate this month, sent an email on January 25 containing a mock-up of a flier for a fake event featuring Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton discussing "violent insurrection." The email was sent to a student listserv reserved for debate and political commentary. It nearly cost him his diploma.

The fake event, called Titled "The Originalist Case for Inciting Insurrection," asked students to RSVP and promised that "[r]iot information will be emailed the morning of the event." It also promised a "$10 Grubhub coupon to be used on the day of the event" for the first 30 students to confirm their attendance.

Stanford then moved to suspend the third-year law student's diploma, which was quickly ridiculed by lawmakers and academics on Twitter.

"Looking forward to all of the brave anti "cancel culture" folks to call out what's happening at Stanford Law right now," Democratic state senator for Hawaii Brian Schatz said.

"What a joke and what an outrage. @Stanford . Here we see, arguably ,one of the three most elite Universities in the world diving head first into an embrace of right wing victim culture. Anyone ever here about the 1st Amendment at Stanford? Disgraceful," said political strategist and former George W. Bush aide Steve Schmidt.

What a joke and what an outrage. @Stanford. Here we see, arguably ,one of the three most elite Universities in the world diving head first into an embrace of right wing victim culture. Anyone ever here about the 1st Amendment at Stanford? Disgraceful. https://t.co/i1oiJT4tgg

— Steve Schmidt (@SteveSchmidtSES) June 3, 2021

"The thing is, this wasn't really a Stanford problem, so much as it was a "The Federalist Society could not endure to be mocked" problem," Tom Nichols, an international affairs professor at the Naval War College and Harvard Extension School.

Stamford University since finished its investigation into the flier and has released the hold on the degree. Newsweek has contacted the law school for more comment.

A statement from the law school said: "A fundamental standard complaint was filed in the university's Office of Community Standards against a student in the law school for an email that he had sent out on January 25. We followed our normal procedures and conducted a factual inquiry. Given that this complaint raised issues of protected speech, we also consulted with legal counsel after we obtained the relevant facts. In cases where the complaint is filed in proximity to graduation, our normal procedure includes placing a graduation diploma hold on the respondent.

"The complaint was resolved as expeditiously as possible, and the respondent and complainant have been informed that case law supports that the email is protected speech. For that reason, and pursuant to the Leonard Law, the university is not moving forward with the OCS process and the graduation diploma hold has been released.

"In recent years, we have seen an increase in the number and complexity of student cases involving free speech, student judicial policies and the California Leonard Law. We will continue to review policies and practices relating to these to ensure ongoing compliance. We are also reviewing procedures for placing holds on student accounts in judicial cases in close proximity to graduation to ensure that holds are limited to cases for which the outcome could be serious enough to affect the timing of degree conferral."

In a email afterwards shared with The Washington Post, Wallace said: "I hope to work with Stanford in the little time I have left to make sure that no other student is subjected to an abuse of process in this way again, and to develop better protections for students' freedom of expression."

He ended his the message with a parting shot, confirming that the more recent email was "not satire."

Stanford Law School
A Google Street View shot of Stanford Law School, California. The law department of the university has been mocked for blocking one of its student’s graduation over a satirical email they sent earlier this year about the Federalist Society, a conservative and libertarian group of lawyers and policymakers. Google Street View