May 5, 2021
Here I go on another one of my First Amendment rants.
According to this article in the New York Times, a first-year law student, who was reading from a court decision, used the N word, which was a direct quote from the decision. This created quite a kerfuffle. Indeed, some first-year law students have circulated a petition calling for the creation of a policy on racial slurs and have demanded formal, public apologies from both the student and the professor who was directing the class discussion.
Thankfully, not everyone has jumped on board. Several faculty members signed a statement of support for the professor and the student, including some of the school’s most prominent faculty members, such as John Farmer Jr., a former New Jersey attorney general, and Ronald K. Chen, the state’s onetime public advocate. Both are former deans of Rutgers Law School. Says Gary Francione, another law professor who signed the statement, “Although we all deplore the use of racist epithets, the idea that a faculty member or law student cannot quote a published court decision that itself quotes a racial or other otherwise objectionable word as part of the record of the case is problematic and implicates matters of academic freedom and free speech.”
I actually used the F word in court one time when I was arguing a motion. And, no, I didn’t say “the F word, your honor.” I used the actual word. And I was quoting directly from the U.S. Supreme Court case of Cohen v. California.