Wednesday night I spoke on a panel about 303 Creative v. Elenis, which upheld the free-speech right of a graphic designer to decline requests to create same-sex wedding websites. I had previously discussed the decision on a panel at UConn Law School, with Professor Katherine Franke (Columbia), Professor Craig Konnoth (UVA), and Ria Tabacco Mar of the ACLU.
This time around it was at Hamilton College in New York as part of the school’s “Common Ground” series, which seeks to bring speakers with diverse perspectives together to discuss controversial issues in a civil way. The panel featured super smart and fully prepared critics of the decision: former state solicitor general Eric Olson (who gamely defended Colorado at oral argument), and Southwestern Law School professor Hila Keren. The moderator was Greenberg Taurig partner Mike Grygiel, who specializes in First Amendment and media law.
As you can see in the video, there were a few slivers of common ground surrounded by quite a bit of passionate but respectful disagreement. As the panel began, a group of students silently unfurled a banner proclaiming, “My Rights Are Not A Debate.” There were no disruptions.
The discussion lasted an hour-and-a-half but it really gets going around the 40:00 minute mark. Overall, it was more substantive than most panels I’ve participated in, even at law schools.
I’ll add one more thing: I was amazed at the level of sophistication and engagement of the students at Hamilton College. The perceptiveness of their questions was remarkable (student questions start about the 1:15:00 mark). What’s more, a large group of students stuck around for even more thoughtful discussion off-camera for about an hour—until we were expelled by maintenance personnel. I’ve rarely encountered law students at one of these kinds of events as genuinely curious and open to new ideas as these undergraduates were. Bravo to Hamilton for whatever it is doing to select students and fuel their intellectual fires.