U.S. Supreme Court

Scalia's Advice to Law Students: Take Bread-and-Butter Classes, Not 'Law and Women'


Law students have just one chance to learn the basics, so they should avoid “frill courses,” Justice Antonin Scalia said on Thursday.

Scalia spoke at the University of Wyoming after a hunting trip in which he did not bag any antelope, the Associated Press reports. Previous coverage said Scalia planned to go hunting in the state with Justice Elena Kagan.

Scalia’s speech focused on his originalist views of the Constitution, but he did answer a few questions, including one from Caitlin Wallace, the Wyoming law student and Federalist Society member who wrote the letter inviting Scalia to appear. She asked for the single best piece of advice Scalia would give law students. AP and the Casper Star-Tribune reported on his answer.

“The only time you’re going to have an opportunity to study a whole area of the law systematically is in law school,” Scalia said. “You should not waste that opportunity. Take the bread-and-butter courses. Do not take, ‘law and women,’ do not take ‘law and poverty,’ do not take ‘law and anything,’ ” he said.

“Professors like certain subjects that they’re writing a book on, so they teach a course in that subject,” Scalia said. “Because there are so many professors teaching their hobbies, the rudimentary courses are not taught with the frequency necessary for everybody to take them.”

The Star-Tribune had this description of Scalia: “The hard-boiled constitutional ‘originalist’ known for his linguistic austerity showed his lighter side on Thursday. He was less a strident observer of the law and more of an entertainer, resembling Jackie Gleason with his jokes, slicked-back hair, baby-faced smile and New York attitude.”

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