What is Federalist Society? Stanford to allow Nick Wallace to graduate after mocking conservative non-profit

In a flyer, Wallace promoted a fake event, 'The Originalist Case for Inciting Insurrection', saying it's 'sponsored' by the Federalist Society

                            What is Federalist Society? Stanford to allow Nick Wallace to graduate after mocking conservative non-profit
Students and visitors walk on the Stanford University campus on March 12, 2019, in Stanford, California (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Standford Law School has dropped its investigation into Nicholas Wallace and lifted the hold on his diploma after concluding that the third-year student had engaged in free speech. Wallace confirmed to Slate that he will be allowed to graduate after an attempt at satire that sparked controversy.

On January 25, Wallace reportedly sent a satirical flyer to a student mailing list reserved for debate and political commentary. In the flyer, Wallace promoted a fake event called “The Originalist Case for Inciting Insurrection", claiming it was "sponsored" by the Stanford Federalist Society. He claimed the event would be graced by the participation of two prominent Republicans who sought to overturn the results of the disputed 2020 election, namely Missouri Senator Joshua Hawley and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.


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The flyer scoffingly noted that “violent insurrection, also known as doing a coup, is a classical system of installing a government,” and that insurrection “can be an effective approach to upholding the principle of limited government.” According to Slate, Wallace's email was "designed to mock" the Stanford Federalist Society after it did not disavow Federalist Society luminaries who were accused by Democrats of encouraging the storming of the US Capitol on January 6, including Hawley and Paxton. The flyer subsequently went viral on the internet.


However, the move prompted one of the Stanford Federalist Society's top officers to file a complaint against Wallace with Stanford’s Office of Community Standards. The student, who cannot be named for legal reasons, alleged that Wallace's satire amounted to defamation and caused "harm" to the Stanford Federalist Society as well as to the “individual reputations” of its officers

On May 22, the aforementioned Stanford Federalist Society officer reportedly pushed the school to launch a formal investigation into the matter. Wallace claims he received the complaint against him only on May 27, the last day of classes, when he was informed that Stanford had placed a hold on his degree and was probing him for “a possible violation of the Fundamental Standard,” the school's code of conduct.

Cyclists ride by Hoover Tower on the Stanford University campus on March 12, 2019, in Stanford, California. (Getty Images)

On Tuesday, June 1, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) sent a letter to Stanford demanding that it “immediately abandon its investigation and commit to procedural reforms to protect the expressive rights Stanford promises to its students.” FIRE argued that private universities were required to comply with the First Amendment under California’s Leonard Law.

“No reasonable person familiar with the email’s context would understand it to be sincere,” FIRE wrote, claiming it was “laden with figurative language intended to impugn national political figures.”

“It has been a pretty awful way to close out my career at Stanford,” Wallace told the Slate's Mark Stern before the investigation was dropped. “Instead of studying for finals, I’m trying to figure this out. I just sent an email to my family trying to reassure them that I haven’t blown it in my last few days at Stanford.”

What is the Federalist Society?

Founded in 1982 by a group of students from the Yale Law School, Harvard Law School, and University of Chicago Law School, the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, mostly known as the Federalist Society, is a non-proft organization of conservatives and libertarians that advocates for a textualist and originalist interpretation of the United States Constitution. It is considered to be one of the nation's most influential legal organizations. 

The society currently has chapters at more than 200 United States law schools. The lawyers' division comprises more than 70,000 practicing attorneys organized in "lawyers chapters" across ninety cities. The society is headquartered in Washington, D.C. 

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