Brian Leiter's Law School Reports

Brian Leiter
University of Chicago Law School

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Justice Scalia Says "University of Chicago Law School" Has Gone "Liberal"

So reports the far right New York Sun (and now the ABA Journal has picked it up).  I get the sense he didn't mean it as a compliment.  Curiously, he seems to confuse political ideology with "rigor":  Chicago, he says, "has changed considerably and intentionally. It has lost the niche it once had as a rigorous and conservative law school."  Of course, maybe he means the conjunct seriously, since some conservative law schools are more ideological than rigorous, whereas Chicago values intense intellectual engagement and rigor, not ideology, which is how the Law School has ended up hiring liberals as well as libertarians (indeed, rumor has it, even scholars to the left of liberals!).   

I wasn't aware, by the way, that Chicago offered a course on "Law and Poverty," and why Justice Scalia derides that as a subject is a bit hard to fathom:  he must surely know that there are a whole host of legal issues, cutting across administrative, constitutional, property, real estate, and tax law raised by poverty.

In any case, if the subtext of Justice Scalia's remarks is that one shouldn't go to Chicago to be spoonfed the conservative or libertarian take on legal issues, that's surely right.  I would have thought it right thirty years ago too, as it happens.  No doubt the Chicago faculty is probably more ideologically diverse than previously, but, as I've noted before, political ideology tells us very little about most interesting legal and jurisprudential questions.

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