EDITORIAL: Be Careful What You Wish For

Senator Ted Cruz may well have started a ball rolling.

The Texas Republican recently urged the Texas state bar to carefully consider the fitness of certain Stanford University law school graduates after a protest over a conservative judge’s speaking engagement on the campus.

According to The Hill newspaper, Cruz, in a letter to Texas officials, said there is a “fundamental” question over whether the students who protested the appearance by Kyle Duncan, a circuit judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, are “fit to practice law” in Texas. 

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Cruz continued: “The idea that these future lawyers would find it acceptable to harass and insult a sitting judge boggles the mind, and seriously calls into question whether these students have the proper respect for the role of a judge, or the temperament to practice law.”

The letter was sent to Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht and Augustin Rivera, the chair of the Texas Board of Law Examiners.

In the letter Cruz continued: “Indeed, these students’ tantrum raises a fair question as to whether they can be trusted to dispassionately defend clients that might have ideological opinions different from their own."

Stanford’s student newspaper, The Stanford Daily, reported that audience members protested Duncan’s appearance before and during his lecture. The paper reported that opponents protesting Duncan’s appearance put up fliers throughout the campus arguing that Duncan has pushed for laws that have harmed women, immigrants and LGBTQ individuals. 

Cruz said the protesters continuously interrupted Duncan, called him racist and yelled “crude sexual slurs.” 

The Stanford Daily reported that the law school’s dean denounced the protest in an email to the school community, saying that what happened did not align with the institution’s “commitment to free speech.” 

Cruz, according to the Hill, said the Texas board should “take particular care” for students graduating from Stanford law school in 2023, 2024 and 2025. He said these students should be forced to state in writing if they participated in the protest, and the Texas Supreme Court and the board should decide what the “proper remedy” should be. 

Protest is fine. Protests on a university campus are par for the course. Or at least they once were. Students these days are more likely to be furrowing their brows worrying about how they are ever going to get out from under the mound of debt that comes with a third level education in today's America.

But back to Cruz, who is exercising a judgment, and one extending across state lines.

He might well be ahead of the posse. No bad thing in Texas, a state where the very concept of "the law" has always been a bit wobbly, especially when it comes to guns.

In times ahead we might find that actual education institutions start to exercise similarly-prompted judgments on admission based on states of origin of applicants.

For example, a leafy college in the north east  or midwest might decide that an applicant from, say, Florida comes from a state with an emasculated public education system; from a state where teachers feel hounded and indeed threatened; from a state where education has been largely taken over by politicians doing the bidding of certain kinds of parents who demand a certain kind of education for their children.

Now families in the Sunshine State who can afford private schooling need not worry about this. But those who cannot afford palm-tree shaded groves of academe have real reason to worry. And the concern is also rooted across the political and social spectrum, in the realm of the doggedly woke, and the ranks of the intolerantly righteous.

As for teachers? Regardless of state, but for sure in states such as Florida and Texas, home of Cruz and his once abandoned pooch Snowflake, the plight of teachers these turbulent times is not to be envied. It can be said with certainty that many are retiring early or outright quitting, while a good many young people are considering a field where they don't feel hounded by any and all forms of political interference, or beyond the pale parental pressure. 

By all accounts, the Stanford students that protested, some of them at any rate, sound like they have a little growing up to do. But assuming they cool their jets and get their degrees they should feel free to set up shop in any of the fifty states they so choose. The same goes for law graduates from Texas universities.

As for Ted Cruz? Well, he went to Princeton for undergraduate time, and Harvard Law for his post graduate time. Perhaps he should head back to one or the other for a refresher course, a diploma in interstate commerce perhaps.