SEO Headline (Max 60 characters)

Stanford Student Who Mocked Federalist Society Can Graduate

June 4, 2021

Stanford University has lifted a hold it had placed on a graduating law student’s diploma and dropped an investigation into a complaint stemming from a satirical flier the student created mocking the campus chapter of the Federalist Society, a national group of conservative and libertarian lawyers.

According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the student, Nicholas Wallace, emailed a satirical flier Jan. 25 that purported to advertise a Federalist Society-sponsored event, “The Originalist Case for Inciting Insurrection,” scheduled for nearly three weeks earlier, on Jan. 6, the date of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

The flier read, “Please join the Stanford Federalist Society as we welcome Senator Joshua Hawley and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to discuss violent insurrection. Violent insurrection, also known as doing a coup, is a classical system of installing a government. 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.”

As Slate initially reported, a member of the Stanford chapter of the Federalist Society filed a complaint with the university, alleging the flier was defamatory. Stanford put a hold on Wallace's diploma -- which was due to be awarded June 12 -- pending an investigation.

On Wednesday, after the case received widespread media attention, Stanford announced it was dropping the investigation and releasing the hold on Wallace’s diploma, having found that his email amounted to protected speech.

Share Article

Elizabeth Redden

Elizabeth Redden, Senior Reporter, covers general higher education topics, religion and higher education, and international higher education for Inside Higher Ed. She has more than a decade of experience as an education journalist. She holds an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing from Columbia University.

Back to Top