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Schools for Misrule, Part II

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Kent discussed Walter Olson's book, Schools for Misrule, earlier this week.  Today, I had lunch with Walter and a few friends at the Heritage Foundation, where Walter gave a talk on the massive pro-defendant (and generally leftist) bias in the nation's law schools.  I'm embarrassed to say that my alma mater, Stanford, is right up there, or down there, with the worst.  Stanford's Supreme Court Litigation Clinic is, for example, a true menace.  In a criminal case, I have never known it to take the side of anyone except a murderer or a terrorist (or both simultaneously).

The question is what can be done about it.  I have two suggestions, although I'm not that confident either will work.  First, remember that just about everyone on the faculty of these "elite" law schools thinks of himself/herself as a future federal judge, if not Justice.  But they know that there will be a Senate hurdle to clear, and that Republicans will have a say.  Thus the smart ones know it's in their interest to have a few conservatives on the faculty to speak up for them at crunch time.  This worked, in a way, with Justice Kagan, when she was Dean at Harvard.  She developed a reputation as being more open to hiring conservative faculty, and that reputation tamped down the intenstity of opposition to her when she was nominated to the Court.  A similar phenomenon is happening with Goodwin Liu, who has fellow Berkeley professor (and "torture memo" author) John Yoo saying that, for a Democratic choice, Liu isn't that bad.

The other strategy, also based in faculty self-interest, is in adjusting your alumi financial support to the school's willingness to hire faculty from both sides.  Mistaking me for a rich man (either that or just being on its mailing list), Stanford keeps sending me requests for donations.  I wrote back that I wouldn't be sending any dough until I saw more balance on the faculty.  Shortly thereafter, Stanford hired Judge Mike McConnell, a renowned conservative thinker.  I will bet good money that my letter had zilch to do with it, but I suspect that a batch of similar letters at least might have.

I expect the law school pro-defendant bias to last a long time, but there is a source of hope: students.  My students at Georgetown last semester made up their own minds, and seemed to regard the opinions of faculty as something other than Holy Writ.

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