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Sunday, May 27, 2018

2018 Grad Decries Political Correctness At Stanford Law School

Stanford Law School Logo (2015)National Review:  Political Correctness at Stanford Law, by Martin  J. Salvucci (J.D. 2018, Stanford):

The undergraduate college regularly boasts the nation’s lowest acceptance rates, and both the graduate business school and the law school likewise rank at the very top of their respective fields.

But all is not well on a campus where many T-shirts bear Stanford’s unofficial mantra that “Life Is Good!” Last year, former provost John Etchemendy warned publicly of a threat from within — a “growing intolerance” that has manifested as a sort of “political one-sidedness.” His admonition was, predictably, politely ignored. However, my experience at Stanford Law School suggests that, if anything, Etchemendy has understated the scope and the scale of the challenge that elite universities now face.

At Stanford Law School, no more than three of approximately 110 full-time faculty publicly identify as conservative or libertarian. (By way of contrast, Stanford Law School touts on its webpage 23 full-time faculty under the inartful rubric of “minority.”) As a consequence, many of my classmates will graduate having never engaged with a law professor whose worldview and convictions track those of nearly half the voting public.

It would require nothing less than willful blindness to presume this state of play does not affect the education that students receive. Probably for obvious reasons, my classmates demonstrate little willingness to identify publicly with anything associated with conservatism or, God forbid, President Trump, no matter how trivial. By way of extraordinary example, the Law School Republicans will soon cease to exist as a student organization because — after a campaign of intimidation and opprobrium — not one underclassman would volunteer to serve on its board next academic year.

An almost unspoken agreement seems to exist among many students that all of us will soon be fabulously successful, so long as everyone remains a “team player” and nobody rocks the boat too earnestly. Political, moral, and religious convictions are, for the most part, accessories best deployed for instrumental purposes, rather than values to be espoused or explored for their own sake. In much the same manner that all respectable people may speak or dress or eat a certain way, students at Stanford Law School have come to believe — and not entirely without reason, given their surroundings — that all respectable people should think the same way. ...

For the past two years, I have repeatedly beseeched the dean of Stanford Law School to follow the example set by the leaders of my undergraduate alma mater — the University of Chicago — and publicly affirm the centrality of viewpoint diversity to the aims of education. Each time, she has refused, citing squeamishness at the prospect of overstepping her portfolio. Yet during that same period, she has nonetheless offered schoolwide commentary on public topics as diverse as the violence in Charlottesville, the rescission of DACA, and the Trump administration’s efforts to ban transgender individuals from military service.

Beyond the Office of the Dean, Stanford Law School has staged programs aimed at helping students to #resist more effectively, celebrating International Workers’ Day and offering advice on “progressive lawyering” in the Trump era. Professors have sent schoolwide emails condemning anyone who supported President Trump as either an outright racist or an enabler who is #complicit. One professor even saw fit to join a student/alumni Facebook group for the purposes of criticizing the Law School Republicans. ...

Stanford Law School is organized, at least theoretically, as a professional school. And students gamely pay nearly $100,000 per year for the promise that they’ll receive an education that ensures their place within the ranks of America’s finest advocates. Of course, they actually receive something closer to three years of self-affirmation, navel-gazing, and a variety of more or less amusing games played by consenting intellectual adults. Genuine advocacy, by contrast, requires resolution of conflicts through adversarial engagement with mutually exclusive perspectives.

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2018/05/2018-grad-decries-political-correctness-at-stanford-law-school.html

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Comments

Half of California being minorities, it sounds like Stanford underrepresents both conservatives and minorities on its faculty.

Posted by: Mike Livingston | May 28, 2018 2:32:26 AM

Breaking news! Conservative claims academic institution is too one-dimensional leftist. Person known as goofy submits counterclaim by Marxist sympathizer. Yawn.

Posted by: Mike Petrik | May 28, 2018 5:26:57 AM

Quote: As a consequence, many of my classmates will graduate having never engaged with a law professor whose worldview and convictions track those of nearly half the voting public.

Law professors will matter little when they begin to practice law. More important, those classmates will graduate not knowing how to argue their client's case before some half of the jury members in this country.

That's the critical difference between liberals/progressives and conservatives/libertarians. The former can only echo what their press and their woefully limited experiences tell them. The latter know all that, since they're awash in that same sea of misinformation. But they also personally know much more.

For instance, all most liberals know about the NRA is what the gunphobic reporters at the NY Times and its kin tell them. Their opponents know the NRA instructor down the street who taught their children gun safety. That makes all the difference. One lives in a bubble. The other in a much larger and more realistic world. Even SNL admitted as much in this "The Bubble" segment.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKOb-kmOgpI

Posted by: Michael W. Perry | May 28, 2018 6:39:53 AM

I don't think the guy bashing the soviet union and the warsaw pact and who worked for wall street firms and who teachers corporate finance is a marxist sympathizer.

Posted by: Mike Petrik auditions for the role of joe McCarthy | May 28, 2018 6:40:15 AM

When did Mike Simkovic, the author of the piece goofy linked to, become a Marxist sympathizer?

Posted by: Brian | May 28, 2018 11:37:21 AM

"For instance, all most liberals know about the NRA is what the gunphobic reporters at the NY Times and its kin tell them. Their opponents know the NRA instructor down the street who taught their children gun safety. That makes all the difference. One lives in a bubble. The other in a much larger and more realistic world. "

Here in reality there are 5 million NRA members - a number that may be inflated as the NRA has been accused often of not taking the deceased off their membership rolls with any frequency - and nearly 2 million college graduates are produced every year. So tell me, which is the bubble?

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | May 28, 2018 1:26:41 PM

Mr 6:40:15. It is not possible to discover your factoids without conducting a Google search that would have also revealed the accuracy of my post. You really should be ashamed of yourself. Leiter does not agree with everything Marx wrote -- neither did Lenin -- but he agrees with quite a lot of it and is quite public about it.

Posted by: Mike Petrik | May 29, 2018 4:17:09 AM

Yes, my mistake. I carelessly confused the blogger with the linked author. My apologies.

Posted by: Mike Petrik | May 29, 2018 4:50:55 AM

@Brian Simkovic is hardly a marxist, but he has become a consistent defender of, some would say apologist for, the existing system. He is entitled to an opinion, but by no means the last word on the subject

Posted by: mike livingston | May 29, 2018 7:34:12 AM

The problem witih Simkovic's piece is that in the academic liberal mind, every conservative is a right-wing ideologue. He almost certainly thinks Justice Alito and President Trump are extremists, when in fact they are just regular right wingers. Mind you, Trump is a total a-hole, but his politics are mainstream conservative.

I say this as a real world liberal, as opposed to an academic liberal.

Posted by: JM | May 29, 2018 8:22:15 AM

So if almost half the voting population believed the world was flat, would that mean Stanford had to have a least a few profs who subscribed to flat-earth theory?

Posted by: Publius Novus | May 29, 2018 1:23:30 PM

What makes you almost certain Simkovic dislikes Justice Alito or President Trump? He had some pretty nice things to say about several of Trumps SEC appointees.

I'm guessing he and Justice Alito see eye to eye on a lot of issues, like say, not letting hate groups insult the the families of dead soldiers at their children's funerals.

Posted by: @ JM | May 29, 2018 3:19:31 PM

"He has become a consistent defender of, some would say apologist for, the existing system."

Got it. So the problem is that he's a Conservative who doesn't like radicals or extremists?

Posted by: conservative | May 29, 2018 4:01:20 PM

So if almost half the voting population believed the world was flat, would that mean Stanford had to have a least a few profs who subscribed to flat-earth theory?

You have a talent for saying self-indicting things.

Posted by: Art Deco | May 30, 2018 12:14:04 PM

If one makes a sentence (fragment) with one descriptor and one object, the descriptor applies to that object. Just a helpful hint that I guess Harvard doesn't teach? Sigh.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | May 30, 2018 10:08:50 PM

Well, the author of the article holds up Trump as the least likely conservative to be embraced by academia. The author is clearly smarter and more thoughtful than Trump. So if Simkovic thinks the author is an extremist, it is only logical he thinks the same if not more of Trump. Ditto Alito, although he was not mentioned in the article.

Posted by: JM | May 31, 2018 7:21:52 AM