May 7, 2024 - Politics & Policy

13 conservative federal judges won't hire Columbia grads over protests

Pro-Palestinian students occupy a central lawn on the Columbia University in New York City in April 2024.

Pro-Palestinian students occupy a central lawn on the Columbia University in New York City in April 2024. Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

13 conservative federal judges said they would not hire law students or undergraduates from Columbia University over how the school responded to recent pro-Palestinian demonstrations on its campus.

The big picture: The judges, all of whom are appointees of former President Trump, said in a letter that they've "lost confidence in Columbia as an institution of higher education."

  • In October 2023, several CEOs announced a similar boycott against Harvard students who belonged to student organizations that had signed a pro-Palestinian letter that claimed Israel was solely responsible for the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks.

Context: There are currently 890 authorized judgeships in the federal judicial system.

What they're saying: The judges in a letter to Columbia President Minouche Shafik and the dean of Columbia's law school Gillian Lester said the university has"become an incubator of bigotry" and has "disqualified itself from educating the future leaders of our country."

  • In order to reclaim "its once-distinguished reputation," the judges said Columbia must enact "serious" consequences for students and faculty who have participated in the demonstrations.
  • They said it should also remain "neutral" while protecting freedom of speech on campus and increase "viewpoint diversity" throughout the university.

Columbia University did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Zoom out: Among the 13 justices, at least seven serve in Texas.

  • Northern District of Texas Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who in 2023 paused the Food and Drug Administration's original approval of abortion pill mifepristone, is among them.
  • They also include U.S. Circuit Judges James Ho of the 5th Circuit and Elizabeth Branch of the 11th Circuit, who previously announced similar boycotts against Yale and Stanford.

Yes, but: Many of those arrested at Columbia and other universities weren't students and are unaffiliated with the schools.

Go deeper ... Exclusive poll: Most college students shrug at nationwide protests

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