State Watch

Stanford reverses, allows student who mocked Federalist Society to graduate

Stanford University has announced that it will be allowing law student Nicholas Wallace to graduate later this month after previously saying it would be withholding his diploma while the school investigated his satirical flier aimed at the Federalist Society. 

The university said in a press release Wednesday that it had resolved a complaint filed by the conservative and libertarian legal group and that Wallace would get his diploma as planned at next week’s graduation ceremony. 

The 32-year-old’s future previously seemed uncertain after the Federalist Society filed a complaint with the university in May, accusing Wallace of defaming the group as well as some of its members, including Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R). 

In the weeks following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Wallace had prepared a satirical flier for a mock event titled, “The Originalist Case for Inciting Insurrection.”

“Violent insurrection, also known as doing a coup, is a classical system of installing a government,” Wallace wrote in the flier, adding that event attendees would be able to hear directly from Hawley and Paxton. “Although widely believed to conflict in every way with the rule of law, violent insurrection can be an effective approach to upholding the principle of limited government.”

Hawley, who received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University, had backed efforts to block the certification of President Biden’s Electoral College win, and Paxton himself drew scrutiny after appearing at a rally in support of former President Trump on the same day as the deadly mob attack on the Capitol. 

Stanford said in Wednesday’s press release that a “fundamental standard complaint” was filed with the university over the flier, prompting the school to follow “normal procedures” and conduct a “factual inquiry.” 

“Given that this complaint raised issues of protected speech, we also consulted with legal counsel after we obtained the relevant facts,” the school said, adding that “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,” the school said. 

Wallace said in a Wednesday interview with The New York Times that he had been concerned that a graduation delay would have prevented him from taking the bar exam this summer before starting a job with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington, D.C.

“I was astounded,” Wallace told the Times. “I couldn’t believe that without any more than this letter of concern they placed my graduation and everything I’ve worked for for the last three years, they’ve placed that under threat.”

Stanford said Wednesday that it would be reviewing the practice of “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.”

Tags Capitol riot College graduation Donald Trump Federalist Society free speech insurrection Joe Biden Josh Hawley Ken Paxton law school Satire Stanford University Texas The New York Times

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