Friday, February 11, 2022

Intolerant Lawyers Shouldn’t Be Judges - WSJ

What should be done about law-school deans and others in legal institutions who censor, cancel, blacklist, refuse to hire, fire, “investigate” and otherwise threaten others for their opinions? A partial answer lies in reminding them that their misconduct may disqualify them from ever sitting on the bench. At one point or another, most lawyers dream about being a judge. Lawyers and aspiring lawyers should remember that their conduct today may be the measure of their disqualification tomorrow.

The question came up last week at Georgetown Law School, when the dean, William Treanor, put a newly hired administrator and senior lecturer, Ilya Shapiro, on leave pending an investigation—merely because of a tweet about the pending Supreme Court nomination. Leaving aside that nonacademic opinion is no reason for punishing an academic, Mr. Treanor’s reaction is one more case of harassing dissenters.

The problem is now pervasive in law schools. On account of mere dissent, deans investigate faculty for their views, give them meager salary increases, bar them from teaching some subjects, and even threaten to fire them—as at Georgetown. It’s not only deans. Faculties or their appointment committees regularly refuse to hire people with the wrong views. Just as bad, student law-review editors exclude dissenting students from their boards and even threaten to fire editors whom they discover to have the wrong views, whether on pronouns or matters of law. Student editors also refuse to publish perspectives they dislike—at some journals, they have blocked conservative perspectives, originalist arguments, and “anti-administrative” (aka constitutional) positions. Many students and faculty therefore shy away from exploring such viewpoints. Quietly in the background, members of faculty oversight boards encourage or permit this narrow-mindedness. Cases therefore increasingly come before the courts, even the Supreme Court, with much academic literature on one side and little on the other. The intolerance thus becomes a due-process problem.


Prof. Philip Hamburger.

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