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‘I Want Nothing to Do with It’: Conservative Judge Says He’s Done Hiring Clerks from ‘Intolerant’ Yale Law

Fifth Circuit Judge James Ho appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov 20, 2017 (Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)/YouTube screengrab).

Fifth Circuit Judge James Ho appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov 20, 2017 (Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)/YouTube screengrab).

A federal appellate judge has announced that he will no longer take on clerks who graduated from Yale Law School, reportedly citing what he said was the school’s “cancellation of views” as the reason for his decision.

“Yale not only tolerates the cancellation of views — it actively practices it,” Fifth U.S. Circuit Judge James Ho said Thursday, according to a National Review story. “Starting today, I will no longer hire law clerks from Yale Law School. And I hope that other judges will join me as well.”

“If they want the closed and intolerant environment that Yale embraces today, that’s their call,” Ho also reportedly said. “But I want nothing to do with it.”

Ho’s remarks were part of his keynote address to the Kentucky Chapters Conference of the Federalist Society on Thursday. The speech, according to the National Review, was titled “Agreeing to Disagree — Restoring America by Resisting Cancel Culture.”

The National Review story said Ho described what he believed were several examples of so-called “cancel culture,” including alleged disruptions by students in a class taught by conservative Chief 11th U.S. Circuit Judge James Pryor, a George W. Bush appointee. Ho also cited student protests of a Federalist Society-sponsored event in March featuring two conservative speakers — Kristen Waggoner of the Alliance Defending Freedom and Monica Miller of the American Humanist Association — that Ho said “became so intense” that police officers had to escort the women out of the building.

That event, according to the Yale Daily News, prompted Senior D.C. Circuit Judge Laurence Silberman, a Ronald Reagan appointee, to send a letter to federal judges asking them to consider not bringing on as clerks any Yale Law student who participated in the protest.

“Yale presents itself as the best, most elite institution of legal education,” Ho said in his remarks Thursday, according to the National Review. “Yet it’s the worst when it comes to legal cancellation.” The school, Ho said, “sets the tone for other law schools, and for the legal profession at large. I certainly reserve the right to add other schools in the future. But my sincere hope is that I won’t have to. My sincere hope is that, if nothing else, my colleagues and I will at least send the message that other schools should not follow in Yale’s footsteps.”

The National Review further cited Ho’s comments:

[C]ancel culture now plagues a wide variety of institutions. I’ve written judicial opinions noting how cancel culture has infected our educational institutions, the legal profession, corporate America, and public health — and how even the criminal justice system has been weaponized to cancel disfavored political viewpoints. Cancel culture is also deeply embedded in journalism, entertainment, sports, and the arts.

The consequences for America are significant. I would contend that cancel culture is one of the leading reasons why citizens no longer trust a wide variety of once-leading institutions. It turns out that, when elite institutions make clear that people who think like you and me shouldn’t even exist, we return the favor.

Ho, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump in 2018, has taken an aggressive and almost confrontational approach, according to an NPR report that says Ho’s aggressive rhetoric “exemplifies” the Trump era. Observers say that Ho, who has been an outspoken opponent of abortion rights and an ardent supporter of an expansive Second Amendment right to own firearms, has defied decades-old norms of the court and, according to NPR, may “embody President Trump’s most enduring legacy.”

Yale Law School has a long list of famous alumni who span the political spectrum. Notable liberal graduates include former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor, who was appointed in 2009 by then-President Barack Obama.

At the same time, however, three of the Supreme Court’s most conservative sitting judges also graduated from Yale Law: George W. Bush appointee Samuel Alito, George H.W. Bush appointee Clarence Thomas, and Donald Trump appointee Brett Kavanaugh, whose nomination was opposed by Yale faculty. Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley — who memorably raised a fist in solidarity with pro-Trump protestors at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 before running for safety as rioters breached the building — is also a Yale grad, as is Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers militia group who is currently facing seditious conspiracy charges in connection with the Capitol breach.

As University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck noted, the judge appears to be decrying so-called “cancel culture” while simultaneously participating in it.

Yale Law School did not immediately reply to Law&Crime’s request for comment.

[Image via YouTube screengrab/Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).]

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