Judges refuse to hire ‘woke’ Yale graduates amid cancel culture row

US Supreme Court
US Supreme Court

A dozen senior US judges have promised a hiring boycott of graduates of Yale Law School in response to claims of "cancel culture" at the prestigious institution, accusing it of undermining free speech and intellectual diversity.

It comes after a federal Court of Appeals judge appointed by Donald Trump, the former US president, declared he would no longer hire clerks from Yale Law School, after criticising angry students for disrupting conservative speakers.

In a speech to members of the influential conservative group the Federalist Society, Judge James Ho railed against censorship targeting conservatives on law school campuses across the country.

The judge, who sits on the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, cited a number of incidents at schools in which prominent figures had faced "campus vitriol".

He singled out Yale - consistently ranked as the top law school in the US - for particular criticism, saying the institution "not only tolerates the cancellation of views, it actively practices it".

In an apparent attempt to pre-empt accusations of hypocrisy, he added: “I don't want to cancel Yale. I want Yale to stop cancelling people like me." He urged other judges to follow suit.

Students warned of 'diminished opportunities'

On Wednesday, 12 federal judges said they would join the boycott in no longer hiring clerks who attended Yale Law School, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Clerkships, particularly in federal courts, are coveted jobs in the legal profession. Many students choose Yale over other Ivy League institutions because of its record in securing clerkships with prominent judges.

The judges, who remain anonymous, cited a series of incidents to the Washington Free Beacon where they claimed free speech had come under attack at Yale Law.

They included an event in March involving lawyer Kristen Waggoner, who represented a Christian baker who refused to make a cake for a gay wedding.

The event was stormed by students supporting the LGBTQ community and led to the police being called.

"Students should be mindful that they will face diminished opportunities if they go to Yale," one prominent circuit court judge - whose clerks have gone on to serve as Supreme Court clerks - told the Washington Free Beacon.

"I have no confidence that [Yale Law students] are being taught anything."

With one exception, the judges stressed that their boycott would be imposed on future, not current, Yale Law School students.

Growing distrust in US judiciary

The move represents the latest instance of polarisation within the legal community, and comes as a number of polls show Americans' growing distrust in the judiciary.

Judge Ho, who was nominated to the 5th Circuit by Mr Trump in 2017, has been an outspoken critic of rising political activism on university campuses.

He previously defended Ilya Shapiro, the conservative legal scholar, after students at Georgetown University's law school called for him to be ousted from a faculty position over Twitter posts he made questioning Joe Biden's pledge to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court.