Harmeet K. Dhillon

Warrior for the Right’s Rights

Harmeet K. Dhillon ’93 started her own law firm, Dhillon Law Group Inc., in 2006. Photo by Steve Maller

Alumna Sees Free Speech Being Threatened
W

hen Google employee James Damore wrote a controversial memo on women in tech, he was fired. Now Harmeet K. Dhillon ’93 is representing him in a class-action lawsuit arguing the company discriminates against whites and Asians, men and employees whose political views are unpopular. Dhillon also filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Berkeley College Republicans and Young America’s Foundation after the University of California, Berkeley, canceled pundit Ann Coulter’s speech there as well as speeches by other conservative speak­ers, or imposed additional conditions on conservative speakers. Dhillon is on the forefront of fighting free speech challenges that she says appear to be aimed at silencing conservatives.

“There is an absolute intolerance for any speech that can be construed by any tortured stretch of the imagination as offensive,” she said.

An outspoken conservative herself, Dhillon attended Dartmouth, where she majored in classics and was editor-in-chief of the Dartmouth Review. Though outnumbered by more liberal thinkers and sometimes ostracized for her conservatism, she thrived. “I didn’t feel lonely. We had a core group of happy warriors.”

Dhillon found other like-minded “war­riors” in law school, including fellow Dart­mouth graduate Laura Ingraham ’91, now a conservative TV and radio host, and best-selling author.

“Harmeet had the courage of her convic­tions,” recalled emeritus professor Lillian BeVier, “and was never, ever intimidated by the fact that she may have been in the mi­nority politically.”

BeVier cited Dhillon’s role as president of the Federalist Society, which invited re­jected Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork and other conservative intellectuals to North Grounds, and without incident.

After clerking for Judge Paul Niemeyer on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Dhillon prac­ticed at firms in New York, London and Silicon Valley before becoming of counsel at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in San Francisco, then starting her own firm, the Dhillon Law Group Inc., in 2006.

Politically active, she ran for state assembly and state senate as the Re­publican nominee from San Francisco, was chair of the San Francisco Republican Party for four years, served for three years as the first woman vice chair of the California GOP, and is one of the state’s three members on the Republican National Committee.

Dhillon believes that the right to free ex­pression, as in cases like Berkeley’s canceled speeches, transcends party lines.

“The same thing could happen to liberal students on a very conservative campus, say, in the Deep South,” she said. “Those liberal students also would be entitled to equal access to their school’s facilities, as the Con­stitution requires.”

“There is an absolute intolerance for any speech that can be construed by any tortured stretch of the imagination as offensive,” she said.

An outspoken conservative herself, Dhillon attended Dartmouth, where she majored in classics and was editor-in-chief of the Dartmouth Review. Though outnumbered by more liberal thinkers and sometimes ostracized for her conservatism, she thrived. “I didn’t feel lonely. We had a core group of happy warriors.”

Dhillon found other like-minded “war­riors” in law school, including fellow Dart­mouth graduate Laura Ingraham ’91, now a conservative TV and radio host, and best-selling author.

“Harmeet had the courage of her convic­tions,” recalled emeritus professor Lillian BeVier, “and was never, ever intimidated by the fact that she may have been in the mi­nority politically.”

BeVier cited Dhillon’s role as president of the Federalist Society, which invited re­jected Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork and other conservative intellectuals to North Grounds, and without incident.

After clerking for Judge Paul Niemeyer on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Dhillon prac­ticed at firms in New York, London and Silicon Valley before becoming of counsel at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in San Francisco, then starting her own firm, the Dhillon Law Group Inc., in 2006.

Politically active, she ran for state assembly and state senate as the Re­publican nominee from San Francisco, was chair of the San Francisco Republican Party for four years, served for three years as the first woman vice chair of the California GOP, and is one of the state’s three members on the Republican National Committee.

Dhillon believes that the right to free ex­pression, as in cases like Berkeley’s canceled speeches, transcends party lines.

“The same thing could happen to liberal students on a very conservative campus, say, in the Deep South,” she said. “Those liberal students also would be entitled to equal access to their school’s facilities, as the Con­stitution requires.”

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Mary M. Wood
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