STANFORD (CBS SF) — Stanford Law School came under heavy criticism Wednesday after a story revealed it kept a student’s degree because of a satirical flyer he made.
UPDATE: Stanford released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying that it ended the investigation and released the diploma.READ MORE: Menlo Park Man Stabbed at Party
🚨A Stanford spokesperson tells me the school will NOT move forward with the investigation into Nicholas Wallace for making fun of the Federalist Society because he engaged in protected speech. The hold on his diploma has allegedly been lifted. Background: https://t.co/gtrIlUfFOd pic.twitter.com/aG5epczMm2
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) June 3, 2021
The school’s investigation into a digital flyer mocking its chapter of the Federalist Society made by third-year law student Nicholas Wallace is keeping him from receiving his degree and taking the bar exam, according to Slate. Wallace is supposed to graduate next week.
“It has been a pretty awful way to close out my career at Stanford,” Wallace told Slate. “Instead of studying for finals, I’m trying to figure this out. I just sent an email to my family trying to reassure them that I haven’t blown it in my last few days at Stanford.”
Here is the flyer that led Stanford to place a hold on Wallace's diploma following a complaint by a Stanford Federalist Society leader. pic.twitter.com/sUg3Jvta3I
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) June 2, 2021
On Jan. 25, Wallace uploaded a flyer for a fake Stanford Law School Federalist Society event called “The Originalist Case For Insurrection” to a listserv where students discussed politics. Wallace intended to mock the school’s chapter of the powerful legal organization for not disavowing its members who participated in the Jan. 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol.
The flyer went viral and drew national attention after USA Today wrote a story about it. Two months later, a member of the Fed Soc chapter made a formal complaint to the schools, claiming that Wallace “had ‘defamed’ the student group, because he ‘impersonated’ the group and insinuated that they would promote violence,” according to the Foundation For Individual Rights In Education (FIRE).READ MORE: One Dead, Three Wounded In Early Sunday Morning Shooting In Oakland's Uptown Neighborhood
After the Federalist Society officer confirmed to Stanford administrators on May 22 that he wanted to proceed with his complaint, Stanford initiated an investigation into Wallace and put a hold on his diploma two weeks before his law school graduation,” FIRE said in a statement. “If the hold is not released, Wallace will not receive his degree as planned on June 12.”
FIRE sent a letter to the Stanford Law School Tuesday, telling the school that its actions “violated its commitment to freedom of expression and California law.” It also called on the school to drop the investigation.
After Slate published its story on the scandal, Federalist Society began trending on Twitter and many on that platform criticized the school for punishing Wallace.
Mocking an ideologically-based group can’t be made a basis for denying academic privileges in any open society worthy of respect. If accurate, this report shows Stanford Law School to be unworthy of treatment as an academic institution https://t.co/0eqx2OcPsw
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) June 2, 2021
💯. As someone who been involved with the Federalist Society for over 35 years, I agree that this is totally ridiculous. https://t.co/Ydpk236sJo
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) June 2, 2021
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— sarah jeong (@sarahjeong) June 2, 2021
Stanford’s chapter of the Federalist Society have commented on the story as of press time.