February 21, 2023

Best American judges of the 20th century?

The earlier poll got nearly 200 responses, though since Professor Kerr (Berkeley) linked to it from his popular Twitter account, the responses probably came from more than just the regular blog readers.  Of the write-ins (some of whom were not eligible, like Roger Taney [!]), the only one that got traction, rightly so, was Robert Jackson, who should have been on the original list.  In any case, here are the top 15 from the poll:

1. Louis Brandeis  (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
2. Learned Hand  loses to Louis Brandeis by 54–51
3. Benjamin Cardozo  loses to Louis Brandeis by 59–45, loses to Learned Hand by 57–54
4. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.  loses to Louis Brandeis by 55–47, loses to Benjamin Cardozo by 60–52
5. William Brennan  loses to Louis Brandeis by 57–45, loses to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. by 52–49
6. Henry Friendly  loses to Louis Brandeis by 53–33, loses to William Brennan by 48–37
7. Thurgood Marshall  loses to Louis Brandeis by 60–32, loses to Henry Friendly by 42–33
8. Earl Warren  loses to Louis Brandeis by 52–39, loses to Thurgood Marshall by 48–41
9. John Marshall Harlan II  loses to Louis Brandeis by 51–23, loses to Henry Friendly by 39–29
10. Richard Posner  loses to Louis Brandeis by 60–36, loses to John Marshall Harlan II by 45–31
11. Ruth Bader Ginsburg  loses to Louis Brandeis by 68–28, loses to Richard Posner by 50–39
12. Hugo Black  loses to Louis Brandeis by 58–32, loses to Richard Posner by 47–41
13. Roger Traynor  loses to Louis Brandeis by 40–20, loses to Hugo Black by 33–25
14. Robert Jackson (write-in)  loses to Louis Brandeis by 51–36, loses to Roger Traynor by 35–29
15. Felix Frankfurter  loses to Louis Brandeis by 64–24, loses to Robert Jackson (write-in) by 45–34

I suspect politics dominated quality in some of these results, but at least a lot of clearly skilled jurists made the list.  I was surprised Brandeis came out on top, rather than Hand or Cardozo, but so it goes with online polls!  Thoughts from readers welcome; submit your comment only once, it may take awhile to appear.




February 21, 2023 in Rankings | Permalink | Comments (4)

February 17, 2023

Who were the best American judges of the 20th-century?

Here's a poll with I hope most of the likely choices for the "top 10".  You can write-in others.  Only judges no longer serving were eligible.  Have fun!

February 17, 2023 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

January 30, 2023

40 law schools are now "boycotting" the USNews.com rankings...

...according to Blog Emperor Caron, who has been keeping track.  Most of those joined after USNews.com announced it would utilize only public data and its own survey data.  According to the Blog Emperor, 53 schools have officially declined to join the boycott, while the rest are either hedging or not telling!

January 30, 2023 in Rankings | Permalink

January 19, 2023

So what might the new USNews.com ranking look like?

We know what the criteria will be, and we know most (but not all) of the inputs, what we don't know is the new arbitrary "weightings."   Professor Muller (Iowa) charts the possibilities on various reasonable assumptions about weightings.  (I'm not sure those schools boycotting the rankings will do worse in the reputational surveys, but we'll see.)

January 19, 2023 in Rankings | Permalink

January 09, 2023

UC Law San Francisco (formerly Hastings) joins the USNews.com ranking boycott

Dean Faigman's statement is here.  I'm not sure what joining the boycott at this point means, since USNews.com has indicated it will use public data, plus its own survey data.

January 9, 2023 in Rankings | Permalink

January 02, 2023

Big changes coming to USNews.com rankings

USNews.com has written to law school Deans announcing some significant changes, as a result of the boycott initiated by Yale.  Here are the highlights:

1.  USNews.com will give full credit in the employment metric to "school-funded full-time long-term fellowships where bar passage is required or where the JD degree is an advantage," as well as to those also enrolled in graduate studies.  This will help Yale, but not only Yale.


2.  More significantly, USNews.com will rely entirely on the public ABA data.  (For schools that complete the surveys, USNews.com says it will make more information available, but it looks like this will not be used in the ranking.)   What the letter to the Deans did not say explicitly is what this will mean for the per capita expenditures measure, which has long been the tail that wags the dog.   Expenditures data is not among the public ABA data, which would mean that US News would have to drop it as a criterion.  That will be very significant.  Yale has been #1 for many years only because of per capita expenditures (most recently, for example, Yale was #3 in both reputational surveys of academics and practitioners); Stanford has been #2 for the same reason.  If, in fact, per capita expenditures will not be included, then there will be a massive shake-up in the rankings.


3.  Reliance on public ABA data will also affect the use of the numerical credentials of students, since the ABA reports the 75th and 25th percentile LSATs and GPAs, but not the median (which is what USNews.com uses).  One possibility is that USNews.com will simply use the median or average of the 75th and 25th, another is that they will use the reported 75th and/or 25th in a more complicated formula.  Since USNews.com runs American legal education, whatever choice they make will affect admissions decisions going forward.  (Derek Muller points out to me that the ABA does report the median credentails, so this concern is moot.   Of course it's still true that USNews.com runs American legal education!)


4.  USNews.com will give less weight to the reputational surveys.  It is unclear how much less weight.  Relatedly, more weight will be given to outcome measures, meaning employment outcomes and bar passage.


5.  USNews.com is still considering adding other factors to the ranking stew in future years:  loan forgiveness, need-based aid, "diversity and socio-economic considerations."   Adding "diversity" just as the Supreme Court is poised to render it an unlawful consideration would be ironic.


Without per capita expenditures in the mix, I would not be surprised to see Harvard come out at #1 in the Spring  But the whole rank order will be shaken up quite a bit--and in no intelligible or meaningful way of course, since the whole thing will still be a stew of factors, weighted inexplicably.  So the USNews.com "reign of terror" will continue!

January 2, 2023 in Rankings | Permalink

Cal Western joins USNews.com ranking boycott

Statement here.   I'm not sure what the import is of joining the boycott at this point, since I believe reporting to USNews.com was due before this announcement.  In any case, we now have, I believe, about 20 schools boycotting which will not make much difference to USNews.com's annual mischief.

January 2, 2023 in Rankings | Permalink

December 16, 2022

New Hampshire joins USNews.com rankings boycott

Dean Carpenter's statement is here.  Unfortunately for the boycott effort, there's still less than 20 schools boycotting.

December 16, 2022 in Rankings | Permalink

December 14, 2022

Some questions for law schools joining the boycott of USNews.com rankings

Dean Rutledge at the University of Georgia (a school not joining the boycott) kindly gave permission to share some questions he has both for and about law schools that are joining the boycott:

    For those schools who claim to be “boycotting/not cooperating with/posturing with respect to” US News

    1. Are they completing the reputational survey?
    2. Are they affirmatively asking not to be scored in the reputational survey?

To the extent schools claim US News "compelled" them to making "undesirable" choices [e.g., merit vs. need-based aid, overweighting numerical credentials], is there any indication that they're actually adjusting their admissions and related decisions now that they've "freed" themselves from the burden?  Let's watch the ABA 509's in December 2023.


I've heard from a number of Deans that they continue to be deluged with emails promoting schools' achievements, including from some law schools that have announced they have joined the boycott.

December 14, 2022 in Rankings | Permalink

December 13, 2022

Campbell Law joins boycott of USNews.com rankings

Statement here.   More law schools that are regularly and unfairly denigrated by USNews.com will need to join the boycott if this is to really affect the operations of USNews.com.

December 13, 2022 in Rankings | Permalink