Stanford Law School Ousts Diversity Dean Who Egged on Protest of Federal Judge

Tirien Steinbach infamously urged Judge Kyle Duncan to consider whether 'the juice' is 'worth the squeeze.'

Stanford diversity dean Tirien Steinbach / Vimeo
July 20, 2023

Stanford Law School has parted ways with the diversity administrator who in March joined students in protesting a sitting federal judge, according to an email reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon.

"I write to share that Tirien Steinbach has decided that she will be leaving her role as Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Stanford Law School to pursue another opportunity," Jenny Martinez, the law school's dean, said in an email on Thursday. "Although Associate Dean Steinbach intended to de-escalate the tense situation when she spoke at the March 9 event, she recognizes that the impact of her statements was not as she hoped or intended."

Steinbach had seized the podium from Kyle Duncan, a judge on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and, in a video that went viral on social media, lambasted the conservative jurist for causing "harm."

"Do you have something so incredibly important to say," she asked, that it is worth the "division of these people?" She went on to tell him that he had to weigh whether the "juice [was] worth the squeeze."

Steinbach also commended the hecklers—one of whom allegedly told Duncan, "We hope your daughters get raped"—telling the students that she was "glad" to see the protest happening. In a conversation with students after the event, she laid the blame for the meltdown entirely at Duncan's feet.

The incident was one of several dust-ups in recent years that have forced elite schools to confront the culture of intolerance fostered by their diversity bureaucrats. In October 2021, for example, Yale Law School found itself doing damage control after administrators were caught on tape pressuring a law student to apologize for a lighthearted email that referred to his apartment as a "trap house." One of the administrators, Yaseen Eldik, was eventually reassigned to a different role. The other, Ellen Cosgrove, took an early retirement.

Though Martinez did not say outright Steinbach had been fired, her email implied that Stanford forced the diversity dean out over the Duncan event. "Both Dean Steinbach and Stanford recognize ways they could have done better in addressing the very challenging situation, including preparing for protests, ensuring university protocols are understood, and helping administrators navigate tensions when they arise," Martinez wrote. "There are opportunities for growth and learning all around."

Minutes after the email went out, Steinbach wrote to the school separately to address her departure. "The honor I feel to have held this role," she said, "is undiminished by the circumstances surrounding the event with Judge Duncan."

Steinbach's ouster comes after months of pressure on the school to take a harder line on free speech. Duncan himself called on Stanford to fire Steinbach—saying she had subjected him to a "bizarre therapy session from hell"—and two circuit court judges, James Ho and Elizabeth Branch, announced in April that they would no longer hire clerks from Stanford Law pending "meaningful, lasting institutional change."

Steinbach is not the only bureaucrat to depart Stanford this week. The university's president, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, announced on Wednesday he would step down after an investigation found that he did not take sufficient steps to correct doctored research.