Law Schools

Elite law schools are letting down their students because of 'intellectual homogeneity,' op-ed says

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Elite law schools are “bastions of liberalism” that are failing their students because of their “intellectual homogeneity,” according to an op-ed by a Harvard law student.

Joel Alicea, organizer of a Federalist Society conference on intellectual diversity, says the lack of conservative views means that many students at top law schools graduate “without having encountered a cogent articulation of conservative views in the classroom.” He expresses his opinion in an article for the Washington Times.

Alicea backs up his liberal-bastion claim with data from a 2005 study that found 94 percent of faculty members at Stanford Law School who made political contributions gave exclusively or mostly to Democratic candidates. He also refers to a statement by a Georgetown law professor who says the ratio of liberal to conservative faculty at his school is 116 to 3.

“My own experience as a student at Harvard Law School is that liberal premises are assumed in most classroom discussions,” Alicea writes. “Sometimes the ostracizing is explicit, as when a professor calmly explained to my class that conservative views are the result of irrational biases in favor of the status quo. Other times, it is more subtle, employing terms like ‘marriage equality’ or ‘reproductive justice.’ ”

Alicea says elite law schools should “actively seek out the best minds representing all points of view. That does not imply giving conservative candidates preferential treatment when making hiring decisions; all candidates must be held to the same academic standards. It does mean, though, that law schools should be eager to hire scholars who represent perspectives that are absent from their faculties.”

Hat tip to SBM Blog and the Volokh Conspiracy.

Related coverage: “Senator sticks to his accusation: Communists outnumbered Republicans at Harvard Law School”

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