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13 federal judges boycott law clerks from Columbia

"We have lost confidence in Columbia as an institution of higher education," the judges said. "Columbia has instead become an incubator of bigotry."

The Arthur W. Diamond Library at Columbia Law School in New York City , Nov. 11, 2021. Credit: Popova Valeriya/Shutterstock.
The Arthur W. Diamond Library at Columbia Law School in New York City , Nov. 11, 2021. Credit: Popova Valeriya/Shutterstock.

Thirteen federal judges said on Monday that they would no longer hire law clerks from Columbia University or Columbia Law School after the school permitted anti-Israel and antisemitic protests to spiral out of control, leading to the illegal occupation of the university’s Hamilton Hall.

“Freedom of speech protects protest, not trespass, and certainly not acts or threats of violence or terrorism,” the judges wrote in the letter, which was addressed to Columbia President Minouche Shafik.

“As judges who hire law clerks every year to serve in the federal judiciary, we have lost confidence in Columbia as an institution of higher education,” they added. “Columbia has instead become an incubator of bigotry.”

The boycott is led by U.S. circuit judges James Ho and Elizabeth Branch, both Trump appointees, who led a previous clerkship boycott of Yale Law School in 2022 and Stanford Law School in 2023 to protest “cancel culture.”

Ho is on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at New Orleans and Branch is on the 11th Circuit at Atlanta.

Another lead signer is Matthew H. Solomson of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. It’s a reversal for Solomson, who had criticized the earlier boycotts of Yale and Stanford.

“His decision to spearhead the Columbia boycott underscores just how much good will the school has lost over the [pro-Palestinian protest] encampment,” reported Aaron Sibarium of The Washington Free Beacon.

Sibarium also noted that while 12 judges had joined the earlier boycott, it had been anonymously. The Columbia letter “marks the first time that more than two judges have said on the record that they will not hire graduates from an elite university.”

Also, unlike the earlier boycotts of Yale and Stanford, which affected only law school students, this one applies to undergraduates as well.

The letter calls on Columbia to impose “serious consequences” for students and faculty who “participated in campus disruptions,” to eliminate favoritism, noting that had religious conservatives protested abortion as genocide “the university’s response would have been profoundly different,” and to promote a diversity of views within the faculty and the administration.

“Recent events demonstrate that ideological homogeneity throughout the entire institution of Columbia has destroyed its ability to train future leaders of a pluralistic and intellectually diverse country,” the judges said.

The letter’s other signatories included Judges Alan Albright, David Counts, James W. Hendrix, Matthew J. Kacsmaryk, Jeremy D. Kernodle, Tilman E. Self III, Brantley Starr, Drew B. Tipton, Daniel M. Traynor and Stephen Alexander Vaden.

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