Justice Over Civility Final Focus Of ASBA Law Conference Anti-Trump Keynote

eric liu
Eric Liu is the co-founder and CEO of Citizen University [Photo from YouTube]

At last week’s Arizona School Board Association’s (ASBA) Law Conference, school board members from across the state were treated to keynote speeches by Red For Ed advocate and ABC15 anchor, Steve Irvin and and “Civic Evangelist,” Eric Liu.

According to attendees, depending on your ideological leanings, the controversial Liu raised eyebrows, praise, and questions. Other than a single rave review by ASBA’s official twitter account, Irvin did not inspire or otherwise spark much interest:

Liu, who got his political start in the Clinton administration and served in the Obama administration, called on attendees to put his particular brand of justice before civility.

Unlike the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which promoted passive resistance against injustice, in other words; civility, Liu, like other progressives, advocates for active resistance.

For those unfamiliar with the “no justice, no peace” and “justice before civility” concepts, they are the notions behind acts of resistance ranging from a restauranteur chasing Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her family out of the Little Red Hen, to left-wing thugs beating journalist Andy Ngo.

For his part, Liu, founder of Citizen University and executive director of the Aspen Institute Citizenship & American Identity Program, and strident anti-Trumper, has argued against violence per se. At the same time though, he encourages division because he believes “that a rush to reunion can entrench injustice.”

Liu’s message surely had to confuse some of the ASBA attendees, given the fact that schools are struggling with increased incidences of bullying and the “no justice, no peace” movement creates and celebrates bullies. But part of Liu’s success is how even when he is on the attack, he does so from behind a civil tongue and pen. In April 2017, Liu wrote a piece for the Washington Post in which he dehumanized President Trump, but in a most civil way.

In that piece, Trump’s most striking accomplishment so far,, Liu begins, “As Donald Trump approaches the 100th day of his presidency, let’s give him credit: He has sparked one of the greatest surges of American citizen action in half a century. Indeed, this burst of civic renewal may be more enduring than anything else he has done in his chaotic first months on the job.”

Liu then describes Trump as “a bombastic, authoritarian, nativist president whose erratic behavior and executive overreach made him a vivid threat to democratic norms and the Constitution.”

Liu offers no examples of Trump’s overreach at all and in light of the fact that Liu worked in the Obama administration where executive orders were doled out like tissues during cold season, one should consider his writing hyperbolic at best.

Liu, who pushes for a Civics Religion, writes about Trump like most zealots:

“Though much of the new civic engagement is negative — activated, that is, by a desire to resist or block Trump and his agenda — there is no question that Americans left and right are developing civic muscles that can be put to many uses for many years.

“Indeed, it’s important that many agendas emerge. A single centralizing force such as Trump is best neutralized not with a single source of opposition but with a swarm of countervailing forces, like antibodies to a virus or Lilliputians to a Gulliver…

“This is why libertarians are speaking out against Trump’s casual but menacing suggestions that protest be punishable or the rights of criminal suspects abridged. Meanwhile, social justice progressives and pro-business conservatives both are pushing back as Trump officials propose capping legal immigration. And frustrated Trump voters are organizing to hold their man to his “America First” pledge as he gets the United States more entangled in conflicts abroad.

“The framers of the Constitution knew that local militias, rooted in their communities, were motivated to defend liberty not as an abstraction but as a face-to-face experience. We are seeing today the spontaneous emergence of networks that are like civic militias: locally rooted webs of citizen lawyers, citizen journalists, citizen scientists, citizen artists and citizen preachers, self-organizing to defend freedom on a moment’s notice.

“We have Trump to thank for this. We can show him our gratitude by further limiting his ability to do harm — and further bolstering our ability to repair the republic.

Of course Liu’s preferred solutions are the usual progressive remedies for every ailment the progressives would seek to cure, while he has no use either for libertarian or conservative groups or solutions, and likely would stand in opposition to any actual militia.

The attendees I spoke to were disturbed by the highly partisan nature of what was supposed to be a nonpartisan event hosted by a nonpartisan organization. One attendee wondered just how many school boards would invite Liu to bring his brand of “religion” to their districts.

In my opinion, even if only one district invites Liu to share his creed, it is one too many. In Arizona, it is against the law to proselytize in publicly funded schools. If the traditional faiths and their understanding and messages of morality and responsibility are not allowed in the classroom, Liu’s shouldn’t be either.

43rd Annual ASBA Law Conference – Materials

Thursday, Sept. 5 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
8:00-8:05Welcome & Overview of the ConferenceDr. Tim Ogle
Chris Thomas
8:05-9:30Legal & Legislative Update: A Run-Down of the Latest from the Capitol and the World of School LawChris Thomas
Chris Kotterman

Lawsuit Presentation

9:30-9:40Presentation of 14th John McDonald AwardChris Thomas
10:00-10:50Stump The School Business OfficialDr. Chuck Essigs, Jeff Gadd, Ken Hicks, Dr. Anabel Aportela
Chris Kotterman-Moderator
10:50-11:50When Values Clash: The Culture Wars Played Out In Our Public Schools and the CourtsJim WalshPresentation
11:50-1:00Lunch/Speaker Steve Irvin ABC15Steve Irvin
1:00-1:50Breakout Sessions
1:00-1:50It’s Not Just Peanuts: Allergens and the LawDeanna Rader &
Jamie Mayrose
1:00-1:50Who Gets to See that Video?Julie Tolleson &
John Richardson
1:00-1:50Don’t Do This…Do That: Open Meeting Law Best PracticesChris Thomas &
Julia Smock
1:00-1:50The Legal Perspective on Social Services at Schools: Working With Outside Groups to Serve Your StudentsTom Pickrell &
Michael Hughes
2:00-2:50Breakout Sessions
2:00-2:50School Resources and Elections: An Overview and Emerging IssuesJim Giel & Randie SteinPresentation
2:00-2:50Conflicts of Interest and Gifts: What Are the Rules of the RoadMatt WrightPresentation
2:00-2:50Stay in Your Lane, Bro (and Sis): School Board Governance/Oversight vs. School Staff Administration/OperationsChris Thomas & Nikkie WhaleyPresentation
2:00-2:50Immigration & SchoolsJessica Sanchez & Phil OrtegaPresentation
3:10-4:00Breakout Sessions
3:10-4:00The End of the Four-Hour Block: What’s Next For English Language LearnersKate Wright,
Melissa Castillo,
Cathy Gentry
3:10-4:00From the Desk Of The Auditor General: What We Look For When We Audit School Districts and How Boards Can HelpVicki Hanson & Cris CablePresentation
3:10-4:00We Hope You Enjoy Your Stay: Parents & Community Members Interacting On Your Campus And When It Becomes A ProblemDenise Lowell-BrittPresentation
3:10-4:00Vaping: The Law, Your Policies and Your Response?Anne Carl,
Nicole Olmstead &
Dr. Terry Rowles
4:10-5:00Breakout Sessions
4:10-5:00Legal Considerations of Educating Native American Students On and Off Tribal LandsPatrice HorstmanPresentation
4:10-5:00I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now: 20 Things Every Board Member Should Take To HeartJulie Bacon &
Ben Hufford
4:10-5:00Ransomware, Malware and Other Data Breaches: How Vulnerable Are School Districts?Rob Haws &
Brad Sandt
4:10-5:00Here We Go Again (On Our Own): School District Website Accessibility and OCR EnforcementKimberly DavisPresentation
5:00-6:30Law Firm Sponsored Reception
Friday, Sept. 6 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
8:00-8:10Welcome, County Meetings PreviewChris Thomas &
Tracey Benson
8:10-8:20Message from Arizona Board of RegentsJohn Arnold
8:20 – 9:30Keynote:The Gift of Failure: How Schools and Parents Can Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can SucceedJessica Lahey
9:50-11:00Keynote: What Public Schools Can Do to Create Future Informed, Engaged VotersEric Liu
11:00-12:00Stump the LawyerBen Hufford, moderator
Rob Haws
Tom Pickrell
John Richardson
Candy Pardee
Denise Bainton
12:00-1:15Lunch with State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman: Arizona Public Education 2019: Where Are We?Kathy Hoffman, State Superintendent
1:15-2:05Breakout Sessions
1:15-2:05The Unique Legal Challenges of Small and Rural SchoolsClaire DeChambre &
Kristen Dikeman
1:15-2:05Sorting Through the Student Assessment “Mess” and What Data to Use in Teacher EvaluationsChris Kotterman,
Alicia Williams &
Jarrett Haskovec
1:15-2:05Student Fees and Tax Credits: What Are The Legal and Practical Guardrails?Kristin Mackin &
Dale Ponder
1:15-2:05School Land Use: Acquiring, Maintaining, Leasing and Selling PropertySteve Highlen,
Jeff Stratman &
Jeff Gadd
2:15-3:05Breakout Sessions
2:15-3:05Promoting Safety and A Positive School ClimateErin Walz,
Cathleen Dooley
2:15-3:05Responding to Public Records Requests, Subpoenas and Other Legal InquiriesLindsay Oliveras &
Michelle Marshall
2:15-3:05School District Consolidation/Unification: What Are The Options?Nathan Schott,
Chuck Essigs &
Leigh Jensen
2:15-3:05The Law of Career and Technical EducationTina Norton &
Brandon Kavanagh
3:05-3:25Break/Ice Cream Social
3:25-4:15Breakout Sessions
3:25-4:15ASBA Delegate Assembly PreviewSam Richard,
Chris Kotterman &
Leigh Jensen
3:25-4:15First Amendment at the Board MeetingJordan EllelPresentation
3:25-4:15Let’s Talk About Sex (Education): What Does The Law Say?Candy Pardee &
Rob Ross
3:25-4:15What Board Members Should Know ABout Special EducationKacey GregsonPresentation