Category Archives: Speakers, Panels and Events

Update on Federalist Society Speaker

The Jefferson Council has received a response to its inquiries why a speech at the University of Virginia law school featuring Erin Hawley, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, was canceled.

The Federalist Society made the decision “out of respect for the tragedy that occurred Sunday night,” said Julia Jeanette Mroz, president of the UVa chapter. “As a student group, we felt it appropriate to follow the University’s lead in designating today a Day of Observance.”

Left-wing student groups had denounced the speech on the grounds that the Alliance is a “hate” group and Hawley’s presence would make members of the LGBQT+ community feel uncomfortable.

Those denunciations were not a factor in the decision to cancel the event. “No other circumstances bore on this decision,” said Mroz, adding that she hopes can be rescheduled to the spring semester.

We have updated our post about the event, accordingly.

Religious-Rights Speaker Stirs Controversy

by James A. Bacon

Three days ago the National Lawyers Guild at UVA condemned the invitation of Erin Hawley, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, to a Federalist Society event previewing a U.S. Supreme Court case touching upon religious freedom. The “progressive” law student group cited Southern Poverty Law Center designation of the Alliance as an anti-LGBTQ+ “hate” group.

In the aftermath of the triple-murder shooting at the University of Virginia Sunday night, the Federalist Society canceled the meeting “out of respect for the tragedy,” said Julia Jeanette Mroz, president of the UVa chapter. “As a student group, we felt it appropriate to follow the University’s lead in designating today a Day of Observance. No other circumstances bore on this decision.”

The Society is working with Hawley to reschedule the event this spring.

The Federalist Society, a group of mostly conservative and libertarian law school students, invited Hawley to a discussion of 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, a pending Supreme Court case.  The Alliance Defending Freedom represents the plaintiff in that case, Lorie Smith, who believes on religious grounds that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and refuses to design websites for LGBTQ+ couples.

The National Lawyers Guild (NGL) at UVA “condemns the views of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) as well as the Federalist Society’s decision to give them a platform by inviting them to speak at an event at the law school,” stated the NGL Facebook page in a post that garnered 88 “likes.” Continue reading

How a Lie Is Born

by James A. Bacon

It is horrifying to watch in real time how the media generates falsehoods and then spreads them without correction. About two weeks ago The Cavalier Daily, the student newspaper at the University of Virginia, published an article about a 47-year-old controversy in which Bert Ellis, who then was a tri-chairman of the student union and now sits on the UVa Board of Visitors, invited William Shockley, a racist and eugenicist, to speak at the university. The story, shorn of critical context, spread to the Democratic Party of Virginia, then to the Washington Post editorial board, and most recently to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Insinuated but not stated baldly, is that Ellis is a racist. In its latest mutation, the lie is used to build a case that Governor Glenn Youngkin, who appointed Ellis to the board, is, in the Post’s words, “racially obtuse.”

Bert Ellis is a colleague of mine. We serve together in the leadership of The Jefferson Council, which is dedicated to upholding the Jeffersonian legacy at UVa. I don’t know him intimately, but I have gotten to know him pretty well. I have heard him speak candidly on a host of incendiary issues, and I’ve never heard him utter a racist sentiment.

With this column, I’m putting Virginia’s mainstream media on notice: Stop it! You’re treading dangerously close to libel. You can no longer claim innocence of the facts. If you persist, you deserve to be sued. Continue reading

The Pence Speech

Students Need to Hear Divergent Opinions

It is hard to imagine taking a position more antithetical to Thomas Jefferson’s, and all of our Founding Fathers’ insistence on freedom of expression and freedom of association than that which has been put forward by the Cavalier Daily. Frankly, it is astounding that the University’s student newspaper is in favor of banning free speech and free association. Even if you don’t agree with me, I have the right to speak!

I note that Mike Pence is speaking at no charge to the university, while the U paid Ibram X. Kendi $32,500 to speak for an hour. There was no outcry as to his POV or shutting him down. But, then, he is part of the ill-named “liberal” orthodoxy. Continue reading

UVa at the Intersection

Credit: UVA Today

by James C. Sherlock

UVA has forged yet another academic/political merger and named it, with characteristic modesty, the Karsh (major donors) “Institute of Democracy”.

To those who say the university has more “institutes” and “centers” than bricks, I say give this one a chance until a closer look.

The executive director is Ms. Melody Barnes. Ms. Barnes’ biography and CV reveal her to have an impressive education and to be well left of center politically. Like nearly every member of the UVa faculty.

Not that there is anything wrong with that.

But let’s leave her to it. There is more to assess. Continue reading

How to Live Free

Mia Love

by James A. Bacon

When Mia Love spoke at the University of Virginia last night, she could have told insider stories about her two terms as the only Black female Republican elected to Congress. She could have dished juicy details about what it was like as the sole GOP member of the Congressional Black Caucus, or the frustrating conversations with President Trump about recruiting Haitian immigrants into the Republican Party, or the $450,000 she had to raise and hand over to GOP party leaders to secure preferred committee assignments. She could have talked public policy about issues she cares about such as abortion or the nation’s profligate fiscal and monetary policies.

But she didn’t. Since losing a razor-thin re-election bid in 2018, she has been residing happily with her husband and three children in Salt Lake City. Although she appears as a talking head on CNN, she is writing a book and her thoughts have turned to a more inspirational direction.

Drawing heavily from personal experience, Love used the speech to explore how to live a life of freedom, integrity and purpose. Continue reading

A Final Indoctrination for Final Exercises

Melody Barnes served as Director of White House Domestic Policy Council under President Obama.

by Walter Smith

Next weekend is Finals (graduation in University of Virginia speak). The Class of 2021 class arrived at the University just after the traumatizing Unite the Right rally, lived through the backlash against Donald Trump, suffered through the suppression of unpopular conservative views, was afflicted with the Engagements requirements of the new curriculum, and missed about a third of the normal four-year college experience thanks to COVID-19 hysteria. As if the climate of the last four years was not poisonous enough, the administration squeezed in one one final indoctrination experience. I speak of assigning Melody Barnes to be a featured speaker.

Ms. Barnes co-chairs the Democracy Initiative at UVa’s Miller Center. Besides working for years for Senator Kennedy, she served eight years under President Obama. If you check out the news feed attached to her CV linked above, you will find more than enough evidence to conclude she is a rabid partisan – just the right person to lead the Democracy Initiative! Continue reading

UVa Lifetime Virtue Signaling

by Walter Smith

“Lifetime learning” sounds pretty innocuous, right? Maybe even charitable and aspirational?

To be fair, the University of Virginia lifetime-learning program does offer some courses that provide an opportunity to learn something.  The two offerings by Professor Ragosta on Patrick Henry look interesting.

But there is a difference between “learning” and “indoctrination. And the “Governor’s Summit on Equitable Collaboration,” hosted by UVa’s lifetime learning program, is shaping up to be an embarrassment for an institution of higher learning whose purported goals are to be “good and great.”

The toolkit for “transforming community spaces” sounds more like the manual for a Red Guard reeducation camp than a lifetime learning experience. Continue reading

“This Is the cost of ignoring white supremacy”

The University of Virginia’s Miller Center kicked off 2021 with a virtual discussion entitled, “Race Relations and Criminal Justice in the New Year.”

Kevin Gaines, African American and African Studies professor, was joined by Paul Butler, Georgetown University law professor and legal analyst on MSNBC, to discuss the aftermath of the Capitol insurrection and criminal justice reform, reports the Cavalier Daily.

The speakers used the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol building by right-wing extremists as a jumping off point to discuss systemic racism. Continue reading