Thursday, June 24, 2004

Lynne Stewart's Trial Begins
Lynne Stewart, attorney to the Sheik who inspired the 1993 WTC Bombings, is set to go to trial. Her crime is that she is accused of helping the blind Sheik run his terrorist organization from jail by smuggling his messages out to them.

My particular interest in her stems from the fact that I was involved in a bit of controversey that made national attention my first year of law school. Eduardo Capulong, the former director of Public Interest at Stanford Law School, decided that Lynne fit all the characteristics of a "Public Interest Mentor." At the time I knew nothing of her, but several of the 2Ls sent an email out that she was under indictment. I did some research of my own and learned that she had also called in the June 28, 1995 edition of the NYTimes of all places, for
"violence directed at the institutions which perpetuate capitalism, racism and sexism, and at the people who are the appointed guardians of those institutions."

Now I don't think there is anything inherently "wrong" with that view, namely because I don't believe in inherent right/wrong. But I still found the thought that Stanford Law School would "endorse" such views by appointing her as a mentor disgusting, especially when she refused to retract them. So I met with Eduardo and voiced my concerns. Eduardo basically told me to fuck off - as he was telling the rest of the students who wanted him to withdraw the invitation. So I wrote a letter to Dean Kathleen Sullivan, asking for a solution - let Lynne speak (as many of us wanted to grill her anyway), just don't let her have the title of "Stanford Public Interest Mentor."

One day passed. No response. The protests had gotten louder, and somebody leaked the issue to Volokh, who made some posts on the subject (click link and scroll down). So I wrote a petition up repeating my proposal to the dean. Over 10% of the student body signed it (about 40% of the people I asked signed it, many agreed but didn't want to take a public side) but from my going person to person in the law school, the controversey spread like wildfire. Still no word from the Dean though.

The next day the story hit the Wall Street Journal's web page. Alumni phone calls are coming in droves, and a second, smaller, petition was started by Carter Ruml. The Dean's office caves. They take the out I gave them, and removed Lynne's title, but allowed her to speak.

That weekend I attended her speach at the Shaking the Foundations Conference. With Mary Stiles (much beloved former staffer at Stanford) keeping the microphone from my grasp (afraid that I would rant), I thanked her for coming and turned my attention to a different speaker (who I ripped apart with a very short question). It wasn't until two days later, when she gave a speech in front of just the law school student body that I pounced. I asked her if she would retract her call for directed violence against the supporters of capitalism. She said she wouldn't. So I asked for a followup. She let me have one. "I'm a supporter of capitalism, and one day I might be in the government. Does that mean that you will support directed violence against me?" Everybody turned aware at the true meaning of Lynne's statement. She wasn't calling for violence against the annonymous, she was calling for violence against our neighbors, our writers, our functionaries - people who could be as real as me standing before you.

Lynne gaggled. She started ranting that I should rethink my position because the "masses will rise." Whatever. Walking out the door and not wanting more attention on the issue I turned down the interview request from Fox News.

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