Amy Wax continues to serve as a professor at Penn Law despite having traded academic work for rambling op-eds about how white culture is superior and backing up her work with Wikipedia cites. She’s not much better at her role as a responsible educator where she publicly denigrates students based on zero empirical evidence. It’s prompted the school to begin the formal process of kicking the tenured professor to the curb and she’s fighting back with a legal defense fund that advertises itself as a tax-deductible charity despite appearing facially non-compliant with federal tax law.
The Penn Law community, unsurprisingly, isn’t willing to sit silently as their institution becomes a pawn in the whitewashing of white nationalism. And these protests have hurt the fee-fees of one of Wax’s 3Ls, who wrote the Penn administration to complain and then posted the letter on his public YouTube channel:
I write to you to express my sincerest displeasure with regards to the way some students are handling the invitation of a guest by Professor Wax. I was quite incensed to see flyers posted all across the school smearing Professor Wax’s character. In my opinion, this—along with the fact that some of her students in the Conservative Legal Thoughts class were harassed (boo-ed and hissed at)—shows an effort to intimidate, indicating a lack of respect for civil discourse.
Oh no! Not boos and hisses!
“If law students can’t handle that, how will they ever handle a courtroom?” is a common but lunkheaded swipe bandied about by legal curmudgeons. The vast majority of law students aren’t even going to see a judge when they go off to draft merger agreements or advise on executive comp or close real estate transactions. But if law students can’t handle boos and hisses without running to tattle to the dean, how will they handle… anything?
But let’s be fair and give this student proper respect for the next point:
To be clear, I understand that there are principles of free speech at play here. Students have a right to protest events which are not to their liking. I am not suggesting that the administration suppress their ability to share their viewpoints.
This should go without saying, but unfortunately the contemporary campus “free speech” narrative casts protest — the very soul of free speech — as antithetical to freedom. So good for this student for rejecting this tripe that many of America’s dumber federal judges have lapped up with a spoon.
[Cue ominous tones] BUT…
I think, however, that there is something to be said here about how the administration has fostered an environment in which conservative students do not feel a likewise freedom to express their viewpoints.
The Federalist Society is arguably the most visible student organization on any law school campus and they feel sufficiently comfortable to serve Chick-fil-A at every fucking meeting (doubly so if the event deals with LGBTQ+ issues) and crow about scheduling outings to the gun range immediately after school massacres. How could conservatives be any more irrationally self-assured right now? They literally stormed the Capitol trying to overturn an election decided by millions of votes!
Conservatives don’t lack freedom to express their viewpoints… they lack the freedom to be invited to parties after they act like assholes.
I suspect that if students were to post flyers across the school denouncing this belief system—that this new age conception of “White supremacy” is a religion, and that these disparate outcomes between different racial groups can be better explained by real intergroup differences with regards to attitude, behavior, and culture than systemic inequities—it would be met with a cold reception by the administration.
You suspect the administration would react negatively to a Title IX violation? Crackerjack legal analysis.
I speculate that the law school would send a school-wide email stating that such viewpoints are incompatible with its values, denounce the viewpoints as “impermissible stereotyping”, and remind students engaged in this behavior that while they are free to express their opinions, they cannot go around posting things across the building in a manner inconsistent with the posting rules (which are in plain display on billboards at the school).
Probably. See how that would be different than what happened here? Something about judging based on the content of one’s character as opposed to the color of their skin… to borrow from the only MLK quote these people ever remember.
Similarly, if Black students were booed and hissed at by fellow students for attending an event sharing progressive (and I use this term loosely) viewpoints, the administration would have no qualms meting out punishment for the wrongdoers by holding that they were harassing students.
In my opinion, it was a dereliction of duty for the previous Dean to denounce Professor Wax’s opinions, viewpoints, and factual statements (I happen to think that Professor Wax’s statements re: Black students not grading into the top quartile is most likely accurate in light of the lowered academic standards under which they were admitted, as offensive as this notion might be to some).
First of all, the argument here is that if the administration had shrugged off Wax bad-mouthing Black students, students wouldn’t be so worked up over the founder of a recognized hate group. That seems like a stretch.
Second, and more importantly, Wax didn’t say “top quartile” she said “top half.”
Regardless, this is a nice lesson in logical reasoning. The phrase “most likely accurate” is doing a lot of work here since Wax had no access to any information that could support that claim and the school already confirmed that it’s complete bullshit. But this guy can hand wave that away by proceeding from the equally bullshit premise that the mere presence of Black students necessarily means that the majority of them had to be admitted based on “lowered academic standards.” This should be one of those “the question does not provide enough information to answer one way or the other” situations as opposed to “most likely accurate.” But racial bias is a hell of a drug.
I have serious doubts as to whether those immersed in this way of thinking could engage in critical thinking.
Bro, I hear you. Except you’re not talking about yourself.
Full letter reproduced on the next page.
Earlier: T14 Law Professor Invites White Supremacist To Campus And You’ll Never… OK, It Was Amy Wax
If You’re Just Finding Out Amy Wax Invited A White Supremacist To Her Class, There’s So, So Much More!
The Amy Wax Case Has Nothing To Do With Academic Freedom
Professor Declares Black Students ‘Rarely’ Graduate In The Top Half Of Law School Class
Amy Wax Moves To Dismiss Disciplinary Action, Still Raising Legal Defense Funds That She Claims Are Tax-Deductible
Amy Wax Says Her Legal Defense Fund Is A 501(c)(3) Charity And That Seems… Odd
Law School Professor Amy Wax Cites Wikipedia And We Need To Stop Pretending Tenure Was Made For This
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news.