Ideology and Law Schools

George Leaf:

Law schools in the U.S. used to be run by no-nonsense individuals who, whatever their personal politics, thought that their institutions existed to teach students about the law, not to engage in advocacy or speculation.

That began to change in the 1980s, as some younger law professors started to push into previously forbidden terrain, introducing blatantly ideological material, and getting away with it. As law professor Charles Rounds put it in this 2010 Martin Center article, the legal curriculum started to fill up with courses that were “bad sociology, not law.”

At Columbia, president Lee Bollinger (a former law dean), saidthat introducing Critical Race Theory was “urgent and necessary.” And Professor Gillian Lester, referring to the Columbia Law faculty, stated, “Their scholarship, teaching and advocacy have illuminated the pervasive effects of structural racism in our society and the law.”

But is teaching CRT anything to brag about, in law school or any other educational institution? Many think not. For instance, professors Richard Vedder and Amy Wax, writing for Independent Institute, state, “the most pernicious aspect of CRT instruction is not its content, but the one-sided, dogmatic intolerance of any alternative points of view.”

Vedder and Wax continue,

The CRT approved story is that white racism is pervasive and accounts for all racial disparities. What is not taught—what students are not even allowed to hear—is the contrary position that persistent racial inequalities are oftentimes rooted in cultural differences and behavioral tendencies that are not traceable to slavery and cannot be solved by purging the vague category of ‘structural racism.’

To that point, I would add that it is also forbidden to argue that government policies are to blame for the poor average economic results experienced by blacks and some other groups. Law students “learning” CRT aren’t going to question the harmful effects of public education or licensing laws, for example, even if they were appropriate topics for legal study.