Red State To Revise Bar Application To Flag Students Who Participate In Disruptive Protests

  The Texas Board of Law Examiners plans to revise its bar application to grill applicants on whether they have engaged in any “incivility and violations of school policies” after a conservative judge was heckled at a prestigious law school in March, according to a letter obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation. 

The impending update was confirmed to Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in an April 7 letter sent by Nathan Hecht, Texas Supreme Court chief justice. Cruz suggested the change in March after Stanford law students shouted at Judge Kyle Duncan during his scheduled speech at a Federalist Society event, according to the letter. 

“The Board has historically relied on law schools to report disciplinary matters that should be considered in determining an applicant’s character and fitness for admission to the Texas bar,” Hecht wrote. “School reactions to recent violations of free-speech policies suggest that reliance is not justified. The Board is planning to add questions to the bar application to inquire of applicants directly concerning incivility and violations of school policies.”

The bar application examines whether applicants uphold the Texas Lawyer’s Creed, during which lawyers promise to “treat counsel, opposing parties, the Court, and members of the Court staff with courtesy and civility,” according to the letter. Hecht wrote that he was “familiar” with the Stanford incident and referenced “similar occurrences at Yale Law School.”

Cruz 230407 by Alexa Schwerha on Scribd

More than 100 protesters at Yale Law School shouted down a bipartisan panel on free speech in March 2022 featuring American Humanist Association’s Monica Miller and Alliance Defending Freedom’s Kristen Waggoner. The interruptions prompted a professor to tell the students to “grow up.”

The board currently considers “criminal, employment, and academic record” to determine whether an applicant “would likely result in injury to future clients, in the obstruction of the administration of justice, or in a violation of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct,” according to the letter.

“I am glad to see that the Texas Board of Law Examiners is adding a question to the Texas bar application to ask if any applicants have participated in incivility or violated their law school’s policies. Members of the Texas Bar enjoy a tremendous honor and privilege and should not only be known for the skill of their advocacy, but also for their courtesy and professionalism,” Cruz told the DCNF. “I salute Chief Justice Hecht for his efforts to uphold the integrity of the Texas Bar which is second-to-none.  And by applying rigorous standards for new lawyers, it will remain that way. Other state bar associations ought to follow suit and demonstrate that the disgraceful behavior exhibited by some students at Yale and Stanford Law won’t be overlooked.”

John Banzhaf, a George Washington University professor of public interest law emeritus, informed Stanford Law School Dean Jenny Martinez in March that he intended to file a complaint advising bar admission authorities against accepting students who participated in the protest.

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