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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, January 18, 2016

Louisville Prof:  Law School Has Embraced A 'Partisan Liberal Agenda', With Conservatives Treated As 'Outsiders'

LouisvilleFollowing up on yesterday's post, Louisville Prof, Student Call Criticism Of 'Nation's First Compassionate Law School' Brand A 'Tired Cliché':  Louisville Courier-Journal op-eds:

U of L Law Professor: 'Veered to Partisan Agenda', by Russell Weaver (Louisville):

In a recent commentary, one of my colleagues attempted to portray the law school’s decision to embrace “social justice” and “compassion” as benign, and having nothing to do with a “liberal agenda.” He viewed these concepts as essential in a modern society.

I agree with the idea that compassion is a worthwhile and understandable objective. Indeed, it is an essential part of life. If the movement toward a “compassionate organization” were nothing more than that, who could object? However, to suggest that the law school has not adopted a partisan social agenda, and that it has not labeled non-liberals “outsiders,” is (at the very least) wrong and misleading.

There is ample evidence that the law school has veered to a partisan agenda. In a prior commentary, I discussed the diversity training conducted by the law school in collaboration with the Vice President for Diversity. At those events, faculty, staff and students were instructed to identify their religious beliefs, sexual orientation and disabilities, and attendees were ordered to clap enthusiastically (it was made quite clear that silence or even polite clapping was simply not acceptable).

Even more troubling, Professor Milligan is absolutely correct about the fact that a leftist agenda affects the classroom environment at the Brandeis School of Law. Deeply troubled by the liberal branding of the law school, and the adoption of the “social justice” mandate, a colleague had the temerity to make the following statement to his students on the final day of class last semester:

Don't let people here—students or faculty—pressure you to compromise your political, legal, social, or religious views. Many of our graduates look back and regret having been sheepish in expressing and developing their political views when they were at this law school. Conservative views have an equal place alongside liberal views at the Brandeis School of Law. I don't care what the Dean says. I don't care what your Con Law professors say. And on this point, neither should you. This is your education—not the Dean's, not the faculty's. Develop your political and legal views freely while you're here. Take care. Good luck on the exam.

When the interim dean found out about the statement, she did not adopt a strong pro-free speech stance, or emphasize the importance of free speech and the exploration of ideas in a university environment. Nor did she, as one might also have expected, speak to the faculty member in order to ascertain the facts. ... Instead, that very day, she marched over to file a complaint with university officials regarding the statement, and she then sent the faculty member an e-mail ordering him to schedule an appointment with the officials. ...

Many things have veered badly off course at UofL, particularly at the law school named for the legendary Justice Louis D. Brandeis. It is time for change.

Open Letter to Law School Dean and Faculty, by C. Anthony Singleton (Louisville 3L):

Certainly, it has been my experience over the past two and a half years, discussion of controversial policy and legal issues tends to assume that the left-wing position is the norm. At times, debate has been chilled. I do not want to suggest that the faculty is dismissive of policy arguments that do not fit their worldview. Indeed, it has been my experience that the faculty welcomes debate. The implicit bias of liberal orthodoxy among many in the faculty and the majority of students, however, leads conservative and libertarian students to ask whether challenging an opinion is worth it. All of this leads me to ponder, “What does it mean for a law school to be compassionate?”

(Hat Tip: Glenn Reynolds.)

Legal Education | Permalink


These are all labels. What is a conservative? A liberal? Compassionate? Try this. We are a selective school and accept high quality students. We will not contribute to the gross over saturation of the legal market. The pie is not large enough.

Posted by: Captain Hurska Carswell, Continuance King | Jan 18, 2016 8:51:47 AM

The derisiveness toward social conservatives reminds me of the similar derisiveness towards feminists, critical race people, etc. when I was a student. It's dismissive but doesn't hear the critique.

Posted by: mike livingston | Jan 19, 2016 2:50:58 AM

Prof. Livingston... were critical race students or professors who taught it ever the victim of a formal complaint and likely reeducation by the Dean? I highly doubt it.

The progressives won the cultural war that they started in the 60s and took over academia. Now the critical race theory and feminist radicals are in charge. And they won't tolerate the same dissent they championed when the shoe was on the other foot. It's hypocrisy on a grand scale and antithetical to the meaning of higher education.

Posted by: Todd | Jan 19, 2016 7:38:31 AM