Have Law Schools Doomed SCOTUS?

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Here’s why good Supreme Court justices, or, for that matter, attorneys in general, let alone attorneys general, are going to keep getting harder to find: Law schools going the way of the Modern Language Association (MLA).

“The tendency toward designing a curriculum to suit the interests and eccentricities of law professors can be seen in the decline of the core law school curriculum, with its basic building block courses like Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Corporations, Criminal Law, Evidence, Professional Responsibility, Property, and Torts,” Gail Heriot wrote late last year in a policy analysis for the Cato Institute. “That decline is mainly a function of the fact that fewer faculty members want to teach them.”

“Meanwhile, a plethora of esoteric and boutique courses — such as Harvard’s ‘Alternative Sexual Relationships: The Jewish Legal Tradition’ and ‘Progressive Alternatives: Institutional Reconstruction Today’ — have found their way into the curriculum because, well, some law professor feels like teaching them and nobody has an incentive to tell him that he can’t.” These course titles can easily make it as panels at the annual MLA convention.

Heriot, a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law, also serves on the United States Commission on Civil Rights.