2 federal appeals judges boycotting Yale Law clerks see progress in campus tolerance for conservative views

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Yale Law School

Yale Law School. Photo from Shutterstock.

Two conservative federal appeals judges who previously announced plans to boycott Yale Law School clerks said they are seeing progress in tolerance for differing viewpoints at a university event Wednesday.

The two judges—Judge James Ho of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at New Orleans and Judge Elizabeth Branch of the 11th Circuit at Atlanta—have previously said they won’t hire law clerks from Yale Law in the future because of the school’s cancel culture.

Ho was the first to make the boycott announcement, citing incidents in which Yale Law students disrupted conservative speakers.

On Wednesday, Ho said he thinks that a “course correction” is taking place, while Branch said she is seeing some positive developments.

Law.com, Reuters, Bloomberg Law and the Yale Daily News are among the publications that covered their comments.

Ho said students who are taught that they can cancel others on college campuses may do the same in the workplace and in U.S. society, according to coverage by Reuters.

“Cancel culture is a cancer on our culture, and we need a cure now before it’s too late,” Ho said.

Both judges said they could change their mind about the boycott, which Ho has said would affect only those students who enroll in the coming academic year; students currently at Yale Law wouldn’t be affected.

The boycott is “not something I want to do,” Ho said, according to coverage by Law.com. “If someone has a better idea, I am all ears. The objective is very simple, it’s to restore free speech and especially to restore free speech at the elite institutions that are most influential on the entire American society.”

Branch suggested that students who disagree with a speaker could find better ways to express viewpoints, perhaps by asking tough questions when questions are permitted. She recalled an instance at her school in which a Holocaust denier was invited to speak. Students didn’t show up for the event, and the speaker was never invited back.

The discussion Wednesday was sponsored by the William F. Buckley Jr. Program, a conservative group. Ho and Branch also plan to attend an event organized by Yale Law early next year. The topic is friendships across divides and judging in partisan times, according to the Yale Daily News.

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