Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Bainbridge:  Louisville Exposes An Ugly Law School Secret: 'A Leftist Hegemony Pervades American Legal Education'

LouisvilleFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Stephen Bainbridge (UCLA), The University of Louisville Pulled Back the Curtain to Expose an Ugly Law School Secret:

Apparently the University of Louisville law school has decided to meet declining enrollments and dwindling funds not by upping their game, but by "branding" itself as a "progressive" institution committed to "social justice." ...

U of L's interim dean has filed trumped up charges against someone who limply objected to the project by encouraging his students to think [for] themselves. Which is obviously heresy in the left-liberal reeducation camp U of L has become.

The real tragedy, however, is that what's happening at U of L is just an express embracing of the leftist hegemony that pervades American legal education. Conservatives, libertarians, people of faith ... heck, anybody to the right of Hillary Clinton are hugely underrepresented in the legal academy and our students who profess such values have learned to hide their light under a bushel lest they be sent off to the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Tolerance, and Goodness (higher education's version of the Ministry of Love).

Ultimately, of course, this is why U of L's branding effort will fail miserably. Virtually every other law school the country--with very few honorable exceptions--has precisely the same identity, they just don't advertise it. And why should they when everybody knows the dirty little secret, except the parents and state legislators who fund this cuckoo in their nest.

Ann Althouse (Wisconsin), "Apparently the University of Louisville law school has decided to meet declining enrollments and dwindling funds not by upping their game, but by 'branding' itself as a 'progressive' institution committed to 'social justice':

Are "compassion" and "social justice" neutral terms? Are they starkly, intentionally leftist? Maybe it's something in between: They feel neutral to those who are living within a left-wing environment, like fish in water. It's that third option that occurred to me when I read Marcosson's words: "I do not believe it ever occurred to anyone who proposed this at the law school or voted for it that it had any ideological or partisan content at all."

Althouse Poll

Louisville Courier-Journal, U of L Law School Adopts 'Compassion' Decree:

After a fierce and sometimes emotional debate, the faculty of University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law on Tuesday voted 26-2 to “champion the cause of compassion.” ...

One professor, Russell Weaver, who opposed the resolution, denounced another, Cedric Merlin Powell, as being “close-minded” for refusing to consider an amendment that would have included respecting “ideological and political diversity” in the definition of compassion. Powell responded that Weaver didn’t deserve consideration, in part because he has long treated colleagues with “condescension and contempt.”

Supporters of the resolution noted that many large corporations and other organizations have signed on to the compassion campaign. “It’s not just us and a bunch of liberals,” said Rudy Ellis, a third-year student and president of the Student Bar Association. Ellis complained that what he called “the Civil War” between faculty was hurting the school. ...

Weaver, who complained in his online column that the resolution was part of the law school’s “partisan agenda,” said that it could come back to haunt the school when students complain about grades being released the day before Christmas, which he said is not compassionate. “I guarantee that students will come back and hit us over the head with this,” he said.

But other professors said that compassion is just one value that is important at the law school and that it would not jeopardize rigor in grading or in the classroom. Professor Manning Warren, the only professor besides Weaver to speak against the resolution, described himself as a liberal Democrat but complained that compassion is “a loaded term.” “Does it mean you feel sorry for the 16-year-old girl who is raped,” he asked, “or her unborn baby?" “It just doesn’t make sense to vote on something when we don’t know what it means,” he said.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

Legal Education | Permalink


Kudos to the University of Louisville for their embrace of honesty and full disclosure. Whereas other universities shamelessly defraud applicants and donors by misrepresenting their indoctrination as education infused with scholarly objectivity, UL has invited them--not to mention the state government of Kentucky--to decide for themselves whether they wish to fork over large amounts of money to fund the inculcation of modern academic dogma. Rather than criticize UL for coming clean, we should be admonishing the rest of academia to follow suit, and everyone else, once armed with this new information, to direct their dollars as they see fit.

Posted by: Dan Simon | Jan 21, 2016 3:41:56 PM

A person without compassion, as the word is properly understood, is a psychopath. Conservatives are skeptical because the word has been redefined by progressives as code for the need to redress all manner of contrived special interest grievances.

Posted by: Mike Petrik | Jan 21, 2016 11:02:59 AM

To contextualize, Louisville is the home to the Festival of Faiths, an annual two-week celebration of spiritual and religious diversity, poetry, art and thought. In 2012 or 2013, in conjunction with the festival and with an endorsement by the US Conference of Mayors, the city’s political and business leadership decided to join the Compassionate Cities Campaign, joining Columbia, SC, Des Moines, IA, Nashville, TN, Frankfort, KY, Raleigh, NC, Westland, MI, and Seattle, WA. The University of Louisville is supporting the city in their efforts.

“A key foundational element of the International Campaign is the Charter for Compassion — the creation of acclaimed author and TED Prize recipient Karen Armstrong. This document provides the campaign with essential guiding principles. A key goal of the International Campaign is to enable rapid development of compassion-based programs within institutions and political entities (cities, nations, etc.) while supporting a growing culture of compassion that fosters positive, effective, and caring shifts in policy, practices, financing, education, employment, health, and community support. The International Campaign focuses on nurturing compassion with a heartfelt, practical, evidence-based initiative build on a public health foundation — it’s universal and inclusive.”

For more information see the following links:

Posted by: Tracey Roberts | Jan 21, 2016 7:08:42 AM

You might want to actually read the stuff. Here, let me make it easy for you:

"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. ..."

Posted by: Mike Petrik | Jan 20, 2016 9:29:22 AM

The key phrase is not compassion, but rather "social justice." No person can honestly say that it does not have a progressive meaning and strong association with left of center politics and causes.

Anything with the word justice attached to it tends to take on a far left ideology. In our own world of tax it's distributive justice, and then there's environmental justice, and so on.

Posted by: Todd | Jan 20, 2016 9:20:30 AM

George W. Bush ran for president as a Compassionate Conservative. Did he mean "left-wing" when he said it?

Posted by: Bubs | Jan 20, 2016 7:04:10 AM