Friday, November 18, 2016
Chicago Tribune op-ed: What American Law Professors Forgot and What Trump Knew, by Stephen B. Presser (Northwestern; author, Law Professors and the Shaping of American Law (West 2016)):
It was lonely being a Donald Trump supporter in the legal academy. Of my thousands of colleagues teaching law in this country, I don't think more than a few dozen believed that he would have made a better president than Hillary Clinton, and not more than a handful of us were willing to go public with our support.
It has always been a risk to be a Republican teaching in a law school, where many teachers see a thin line between support for the GOP and bigotry or insanity. And yet, enough Americans liked what they saw in Trump to give him a smashing Electoral College victory.
How did it come about that law professors grew so out of touch with much of America?
To a hammer everything looks like a nail, and to a law professor everything is a problem in jurisprudence. Accordingly, it's my guess that the legal academy, over the past 80 years or so, began to wander too far from common sense, or, to be more precise, to depart from the essentials of the rule of law. Law professors forgot the most important notion that undergirds our legal system — the basic principle endorsed by the framers, that ours is a government of laws, not men (or women). ...
It seems to be well understood that some conservatives (I'm one) adhered to Trump early on because of the view that he would appoint a conservative like Scalia to the Supreme Court. But I can't help but wonder whether the many millions who voted for President-elect Trump also understood what the legal academy had all but forgotten, that what was at stake in the past election was nothing less than the rule of law and self-government itself.