Paul L. Caron
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Thursday, October 27, 2022

Justice Alito Takes Direct Aim At Law Schools For ‘Abysmal’ And ‘Dangerous’ Free Speech Climate As Conservative Judges Boycott His Alma Mater

Law & Crime, Justice Alito Takes Direct Aim at Law Schools for ‘Abysmal’ and ‘Dangerous’ Free Speech Climate as Conservative Judges Boycott His Alma Mater:

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, hosted the 2022 Joseph Story Distinguished Lecture and live-streamed the event on YouTube, as it has in previous years. Past speakers included Alito’s fellow Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas.

Justice Samuel Alito delivered remarks Tuesday evening in friendly territory — where attendees revere him as the author of the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade in what is arguably the crowning achievement of the conservative legal movement. ...

When asked about the status of free speech on college campuses and in law schools in particular, Alito called the status quo “pretty abysmal,” “disgraceful,” and “really dangerous for our future as a united, democratic country.”

“We depend on freedom of speech,” Alito said. “Colleges and universities should be setting the example, and law schools should be setting the example for the university because our adversary system is based on the principle that the best way to get at the truth is to have a strong presentation of opposing views. So, law schools should be free to speak their minds without worrying about the consequences, and they should have their ideas tested in rational debating.”

The justice said his opinions on the matter were being informed by various reports about controversies on law school campuses and conversations he has had with students. He did not name particular institutions.

He said some institutions — especially law schools — were “not carrying out their responsibility” toward protecting free speech in the manner he envisioned as appropriate and necessary given the societal interests at play.

Reuters, U.S. Supreme Court's Alito Calls Law School Free Speech 'Abysmal':

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on Tuesday called the state of free speech on college and law school campuses "dangerous" and "abysmal," amid a boycott by other conservative jurists against hiring clerks from his alma mater, Yale Law School.

Alito, a member of the U.S. Supreme Court's 6-3 conservative majority, said during an evening event hosted by the Heritage Foundation that "law students should be free to speak their minds without worrying about the consequences."

But he said "based on what I have read and what has been told to me by students," some law schools are "really not carrying out their responsibility" to protect students' speech and "have their ideas tested in rational debating."

"It's pretty abysmal, and it's disgraceful," Alito said. "It's dangerous for our future as a united democratic country. We depend on freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is essential."

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2022/10/justice-alito-takes-direct-aim-at-law-schools-for-abysmal-and-dangerous-free-speech-climate.html

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