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Saturday, April 28, 2018

U Va Law bans non-students from library during exams

Story here (forwarded to me by a colleague with the subject line "Glad I'm Not a Dean"). Nothing wrong with that policy on the surface--many schools do that to ensure that law students have sufficient study space during the high-stress period. The potential problem is that the policy change was enacted in response to white-supremacist leader Jason Kessler using the library, which triggered a wave of protests, public forums, and demands for the school to take action. So what happens with a content-neutral policy enacted for blatantly viewpoint-discriminatory reasons?

Posted by Howard Wasserman on April 28, 2018 at 11:03 AM in First Amendment, Law and Politics, Teaching Law | Permalink


Most courts and bar associations maintain a public law library. Although law schools (especially public law schools) provide access, most close that access during exam time.

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Apr 29, 2018 5:40:00 PM


I don't know all the wrinkles of the Federal Depository library program but as this GPO site show U VA does belong and normally institutions that belong to the program MUST offer free public access. I don't think they can restrict it only to certain times for certain people. I also don't know of the relation of the law program to U VA as a whole. They certainly can't ban his from campus entirely (changes to free speech code or not) if his only reason to be there is to use the library. That ship has already sailed for U VA.

Posted by: James | Apr 29, 2018 2:53:20 PM

There is an interesting wrinkle that has occurred to me. What are his other options to access a law library, any law library, during this time period? Access to the courts are one of our most precious values and if he is doing legal research and there is no other viable options for him I don't see how this ban can withstand scrutiny as the ban directly interferes with his ability to mount a defense at bar.

Posted by: James | Apr 29, 2018 2:44:47 PM

Wasserman , you may find here , great interest I guess :



Posted by: El roam | Apr 29, 2018 8:00:13 AM

Interesting , but really ugly . It seems that the real trigger for such policy , has been that event with Kessler . However , the real thing , seems to be that one , I quote :

A second-year student said, “A group of students and Professor [Anne] Coughlin were telling him to leave. Video was taken by him and by those who went to silently protest.” For nearly two hours, students stood around Kessler to silently protest his presence.

Such amazing implicit apparently harassment , had to bother much more the directors of that University . I hope he would find good lawyer , to sue the hell out of them. Yet , if he must learn alone, for overcoming his trials ahead , probably , he can't afford it .


Posted by: El roam | Apr 28, 2018 2:19:14 PM

You mean, sort of like the travel ban (but replace sect-discriminatory for viewpoint-discriminatory)?

Posted by: Marty Lederman | Apr 28, 2018 2:16:07 PM

I think various valid policies will if you examine the details [that is, if you could -- many will not be out in the open enough for outside examination] will come about because of trouble from one specific person or whatever calling attention to something that was beforehand not seen as an issue because no trouble worthy of changing the policy came about.

This is a statement, well a hypothesis, of fact, not justification.

Posted by: Joe | Apr 28, 2018 1:32:01 PM

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