Paul L. Caron

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Banzhaf: Godless Liberal Law Professors Are Training Future Lawyers

John F. Banzhaf, III (George Washington), Godless Liberal Law Professors Are Training Future Lawyers:

Law professors — those teaching students who will soon become precedent-setting litigators, judges, and frequently legislators and regulators or their staffs — are not only overwhelmingly liberal, but are also many times more likely to be godless than the general public, according to a recently published study [James Lindgren (Northwestern), The Religious Beliefs, Practices, and Experiences of Law Professors, 15 U. St. Thomas L.J. 342 (2019)]. ...

The study concludes that "law professors today are far less likely to believe in God than the general population, even compared to that segment of the population with graduate and professional degrees. Indeed, even compared to other professors, law professors are much less religious." ...

While the study did not address the effect of having a law faculty which is much more liberal and much less religious than the general population on what and how such law professors teach prospective lawyers, it's hard to see how a relative paucity of conservative and/or strong religious views would not have a significant impact, and for the same reason that African Americans and Hispanics are so actively sought out by law schools as part of their affirmative actions programs for both students and faculty. ...

[I]f it's appropriate to favor certain groups (e.g., Blacks and Latinos) in hiring and admission at law schools, it's not clear why such a policy should not apply as well to other underrepresented groups such as conservatives, Christians, and others with underrepresented religious backgrounds, etc.

Indeed, since differing philosophies and backgrounds are likely to be much more significant in classrooms discussing law than in many other university disciplines, the great disparities regarding political preferences and religious beliefs arguably should be more of a concern among those teaching law than similar disparities among professors teaching many other important university subjects such as math, physics, chemistry, biology, statistics and data analysis, computer science and programing, etc.

Update:  Brian Leiter (Chicago), Surprisingly Large Number of Law Professors Believe in God and Are Religious Compared to Other Highly Educated Academics

Faith, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink


Seems to me the (small-c) conservative answer is to create more paths to demonstrating the skills and knowledge to practice, so no one is discriminated against, preached at, or forced to pay a corrupt "tribute" to ideologies he or she finds repugnant or simply unnecessary.

Congress has it right with the last sentence of IRC 7452 and the true bleeding-heart liberals and free-market conservatives should find common ground for law practice more generally here.

Posted by: Anand Desai | Jan 27, 2020 9:56:54 PM

Law is itself a system of magic, creating realities with words. Interesting that Banzhaf concedes that religious belief is not relevant to the hard sciences, as these do all require a commitment to materialism.

Posted by: Russ Willis | Jan 27, 2020 1:10:42 PM

Feigned outrage isn't an argument, Oliver Buckley. It is an admission that you have no argument.

Posted by: Some person | Jan 27, 2020 11:59:42 AM

Who is actively discriminated against versus who is actively recruited? Answer: conservatives, especially religious conservatives versus ethnic minorities.

Posted by: Robert | Jan 27, 2020 11:18:46 AM

Most of the founders would have been considered somewhere between atheist and deist in today's terminology. So much for originalism, I guess...

Also I reckon there are far fewer Muslim than Christian law professors. I'm sure John would be in favor of hiring more Muslim professors, yes? Yes? [crickets, tumbleweed]

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jan 26, 2020 7:27:50 PM

You've got to be kidding, right? Is it April 1? Equating the recruitment of underrepresented minorities to law schools with the recruitment of "underrepresented" Christians and conservatives is mind boggling.

Posted by: Oliver Buckley | Jan 26, 2020 11:52:17 AM

Also, is there any evidence that having black professors or hispanic professors is necessary to fairly teach subjects that relate to race, i.e., employment discrimination and equal protection? Are white or asian professors not capable of teaching these subjects effectively?

Posted by: Relevance? | Jan 26, 2020 10:25:56 AM

I can get why this might matter for constitutional law discussions of freedom of religion, assembly, abortion, equal protection (gay rights), etc. Although it's not clear that people who are not religiously observant are incapable of understanding and fairly representing the views of those who are.

But outside of constitutional law, why would this make a difference?

Is there a religiously inspired conception of the business judgment rule or like kind exchanges or filing a UCC-1?

Posted by: Relevance? | Jan 26, 2020 10:24:03 AM