Michigan Law Federalist Society hosts debate on free speech

Michigan Law Federalist Society hosted a debate between two legal experts about the extents of free speech on college campuses.

The speakers delivered arguments from both sides of the political aisle

During a debate hosted by the Michigan Law Federalist Society, self-proclaimed liberal professor Andrew Koppelman called on liberal students to listen to opposing viewpoints.

“If you agree with me that he’s got awful views, you ought to be really glad he’s here and you should listen very carefully to what he has to say, not because the abstract value of the freedom of speech, but because paying attention to him will help you to fight him,” Koppelman said, according to reporting by the Iosco County News-Herald.

The event was hosted at the University of Michigan and pitted Koppelman against Ilya Shapiro, who serves as the Executive Director and senior lecturer at the Georgetown Center for the Constitution and is a former Vice President of the Cato Institute.

This event was moderated by Adam Pritchard, a professor at Michigan Law.

According to Michigan Federalist Society Public Relations Director Clayton Fulton, the event was “fair” and “respectful.” 

”The two scholars with opposing ideologies found a lot of similar ground in defending free speech and the exchange of ideas. The debate was in stark contrast to the Mitchell/ Caminker event the week before,” Fulton told Campus Reform.

Fulton referenced another event hosted this semester by the Federalist Society chapter on Mar. 23 titled “The Writ-of-Erasure Fallacy and the Texas Heartbeat Act.” The discussion featured Architect of the Texas Heartbeat Act Jonathan Mitchell and Branch Rickey Collegiate Professor of Law Evan Caminker.

The event resulted in protests by pro-choice students. Campus Reform obtained photos of the disruption. 

“According to warnings from the law school administration, the protestors violated the University of Michigan’s Free Speech policy. While Administration called the Universities Department of Public Safety, Campus police removed no one from the event,” said Fulton.

Koppelman encouraged left-leaning students on campus to listen to opposing views rather than interrupt them by organizing protests.

“The event debaters find themselves at odds on several issues; one mentioned explicitly by Koppelman at the debate is the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) issue,” Fulton said, “Ilya believed OSHA’s actions exceeded its statutory authority, Koppelman disagreed adamantly.” 

Koppelman is a Professor of Law and Political Science (by courtesy) at Northwestern University. He has published multiple books and articles expressing his political opinions, including a recent article in The Hill titled “Anti-vaccine judges attack the Navy.” 

The article argues that “anti-vaccine ideology” is “endangering national security.”

Campus Reform contacted Koppelman for comment and made best effort to contact Shaprio. This article will be updated accordingly.