Judge Danny J. Boggs, '68, Talks Protests and the Right to Assemble

Meredith Heagney
Law School Office of Communications
April 4, 2012

Judge Danny J. Boggs, ’68, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, spoke at the Law School about similarities between the student protestors who took over the university administration building in 1969 and the demonstrators behind Occupy Wall Street and its affiliated movements today.

Boggs was hosted March 26 by the Federalist Society, a student group of conservatives and libertarians. About 70 students came to his lunchtime speech, titled “Occupiers: From UChicago 1969 to Wall Street 2012.”

“There certainly is a feeling of nostalgia coming back here,” he said, after an introduction from Dean Michael Schill.

Boggs remembers the student protests of 1969 well, as he was a recent graduate with a Bigelow Teaching Fellowship. That year, on January 30, 400 students took over the university administration building, protesting the school’s decision not to reappoint a sociology professor, Marlene Dixon. Activists felt Dixon was being punished for her liberal views and the fact that she was a woman. University President Edward H. Levi, ’35, decided not to call the police, and staff were simply moved to other locations. Dixon was offered a one-year reappointment, which she declined, and the students left after about two weeks.

The disciplinary committee that decided the various punishments for those students met in Room II of the Law School, Boggs said. Ultimately, nearly 100 students were suspended or expelled.

He drew comparisons between that protest and those of Occupy Wall Street activists in New York and across the country. Both movements had little formal leadersh