ASU Federalist Society invites Trump ally to speak at online student event

Conservative lawyer John Eastman spoke at Trump's Jan. 6 rally before the Capitol insurrection and pushed false election fraud claims

The ASU Federalist Society invited John Eastman, who spoke at former President Donald Trump’s Jan. 6 rally, to speak to their members as part of a discussion on emergency federal powers during a pandemic.

Eastman agreed to retire from his position as a law professor at Chapman University after facing backlash for speaking Trump’s rally. His remarks fueled the president’s unfounded claims of voter fraud, which led to the Capitol insurrection just hours after the rally.

Prior to the Jan. 6 rally, the New York Times reported that Eastman was seen arguing in the Oval Office with former Vice President Mike Pence that Pence had the power to block the certification of the Electoral College votes for President Joe Biden.

Eastman released a statement shortly after his resignation from Chapman that continued to defend false claims of election and voter fraud.

Last week, Eastman also had his classes at CU Boulder canceled due to low enrollment, the Denver Post reported.

The event hosted by the ASU Federalist Society, a conservative group within the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and a chapter of the national Federalist Society, is titled “Masking a Government Takeover? The Limits of Emergency Powers During COVID-19."

Multiple members the Federalist Society, including co-founder Steven Calabresi, have since signed on to a letter from legal scholars that Trump can be convicted for his involvement and incitement of the insurrection at the Capitol, Politico reported.

The ASU Federalist Society did not respond to request for comment.

In response to the event, a group of law students created a petition and wrote letters to the deans of Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and University President Michael Crow, asking that Eastman’s invitation to speak be rescinded.

"I would like to know that the administration does stand firmly on this issue because this is not one that I want a very political answer on, I want something real," said Fallon Cochlin, a first-year law student.

"ASU Law loves to talk about how 33% of the first-year class are minorities and promote themselves as a very inclusive and diverse environment," first-year law student Claire Newfeld said. "If they’re going to promote their public image as an inclusive law school and welcome students of diverse backgrounds and identities … they need to stand up for and protect those students.”

Sunday evening, Sandra Day O'Connor's Dean Douglas Sylvester released a statement that he "vehemently disagree(s) with the judgement" of the group to move forward with the event, but the law school does not have the authority to cancel the event.

Sylvester urged Eastman to pull out of the event and wrote that Eastman was "beneath the standards of ASU Law."

Ilan Wurman, an associate law professor at ASU, was scheduled to join Eastman at the event, but Wurman announced his decision to not participate on Sunday night, writing that he no longer believed a "productive exchange" would happen. 

Wurman has voiced strong opposition to COVID-19 restrictions and has assisted in lawsuits filed by Arizona businesses against the state, as reported by The Spirits Business. He also wrote an opinion column published in Newsweek in October opposing Arizona's lockdowns and restrictions because they "threaten constitutional principles," he wrote.

The event is scheduled to take place over Zoom on Jan. 25, from 12:15 -1:15 p.m.

This article was updated on Jan. 24 at 7:15 p.m. to include statements from Cochlin, Newfeld and Sylvester.


Reach the reporter at rpriest2@asu.edu and follow @reaganspriest on Twitter.

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