Note: This is the first in a ten-part series at PJ Media examining what our nation’s top ten law schools are teaching. Hans von Spakovsky and J. Christian Adams will undertake a deep dive into what is being taught in America’s top ten-ranked law schools.
Elite law schools have become training academies not so much for effective and competent lawyers, but instead for militant transformational radicals with a law degree.
Mainstream consumers of legal services, otherwise known as paying clients, would be shocked by the evolution that has taken place in the nation’s elite law schools. Instead of producing lawyers capable of helping clients, these schools now turn out leftist activists who are most competent at using transformational designs to upend centuries of legal traditions and institutions, including, ultimately, the U.S. Constitution itself.
This problem isn’t new. But the shocking behavior at Stanford by rude, belligerent proto-totalitarian students shouting down a federal judge laid bare this rancid evolution for everyone to see.
The next generation of lawyers at these schools isn’t focused on learning contracts, torts, civil procedure, and evidence as much as they are learning how to destroy treasured American institutions such as tolerance, liberty, and free speech.
This is important. Too many Americans still think a law degree from Harvard means that the graduating lawyer is competent to practice law. The opposite is becoming more true.
Harvard, Yale, and the elite law schools are graduating increasing percentages of incompetent lawyers, at least when it comes to what lawyers have long done: practice law.
Graduates from the elite law schools are mighty good activists, but lawyers? Not so much. The law students shouting down free speech at Stanford today are the leftist activists of tomorrow.
It may be that clients would be better off hiring lawyers from a Southeastern Conference law school like University of Tennessee, University of Alabama, or a more mainstream program like Pitt, Arizona, or Miami.
Contributing to the rot are the large law firms who think filling their ranks with graduates from these elite schools justifies their staggering client billing rates. In truth, their clients are often paying top dollar for poorly prepared lawyers. They are learning the law on the client’s dime, not in law school. Clients often pay for lawyers who studied useless ideologically-saturated topics like the ones we will detail in these forthcoming articles.
Simply, lawyers from so-called “lesser” law schools are likely to be better trained to practice law in court and represent clients than the ones graduating from elite law schools.
Hans von Spakovsky and I will march through the top ten rankings by U.S. News and World Report and share with you what is taking place inside these law schools. The militancy and uselessness of the curriculum may astound many of you. Others, like the leftists who dominate law school professors, may cheer “Bravo!” at a transformational job well done.
But regular American citizens have seen their values and treasured American liberties threatened and eroded by chanting mobs at Stanford assailing an esteemed federal judge. We are losing the ability to freely speak at college, and the right to freely exercise our religion.
This assault on American values, constitutional liberties, and our treasured limits on government power almost always starts with a lawyer, somewhere. And the lawyers from elite law schools are leading this assault.
Let’s explore what students at these schools are being taught. Strap in.
Our first stop is in New Haven, Connecticut. Yale sits atop the U.S. News and World Report as the nation’s top-ranked law school. What a shame, then, to see the radical leftist courses being taught at Yale. Here are a few examples.
What better place to start than with abortion? Despite significant pro-life legal victories in courts, I could find no courses dedicated to litigating for pro-life causes. Of course, the opposite was true at Yale.
The Advanced Reproductive Rights and Justice Project is taught by Priscilla Smith, who heads Yale’s “Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice.” We could find no pro-life counterpart. The course description offers Yale students work experience in a legal area where:
Established doctrine is under siege. Students advocate for reproductive health care providers and their patients, learning the vital importance of client confidentiality, as well as the impact of political movement strategy and management of press and public messaging.
For litigation matters, students work in small teams representing reproductive health care providers and/or patients in cases being handled by attorneys at national organizations. Projects and case assignments will vary according to the posture of the cases, but all will require top-notch legal research, analysis, and writing, as well as strategy meetings with team members. Some cases involve trial level work, including informal fact development, drafting pleadings, discovery, motion practice, and negotiations. Other matters involve appellate briefing.
Students also have an opportunity to develop non-litigation skills by undertaking non-litigation matters involving legislative and regulatory work, public education, and strategic planning, at the federal, state, and local level.
In other words, abortion activist groups directly benefit from the classwork of Yale law students.
If Yale students get shut out of classes promoting abortion, they can always take courses to help put more felons on the streets:
Challenging Mass Incarceration Clinic. In the field work, students represent clients in two types of cases: federal sentencing proceedings and Connecticut state parole hearings. Students will learn advocacy strategies aimed at mitigating or ameliorating their clients’ punishment, both prospectively during sentencing and retrospectively during post-conviction proceedings.
After completing “Challenging Mass Incarceration,” Yale law students are eligible to take “Advanced Challenging Mass Incarceration Clinic: Fieldwork.”
And the death penalty? Naturally, Yale Law offers a course teaching students how to oppose it. This class “will examine issues of poverty and race in the criminal justice system, particularly with regard to the imposition of the death penalty.”
If you’ve grown content with abundant and relatively cheap food supplies, Yale Law has a course to help transform that, too. “Climate, Animals, Food, and Environment Law & Policy Lab” promises students the opportunity to:
…work on innovative policy proposals in collaboration with a network of NGOs interested in food system reform. … Students … will work with faculty, outside experts, and non-governmental organizations to develop innovative litigation and legislative initiatives to bring systemic change to the global food industry, which is one of the top contributors to climate change, animal suffering, human exploitation, and environmental degradation worldwide. The Lab’s primary focus areas for 2022-23 include litigation to address GHG emissions from industrial agriculture and legislative models to hold industrial food producers accountable for the currently uncounted, externalized costs of industrial agriculture.
If Yale students are looking for a concise accounting of liberal history, Yale conveniently offers a two-credit course on the History of Liberalism taught by Samuel Moyn.
Yale students who are particularly bored with concepts like adverse possession, the UCC, and limited liability company formation can take a course on “Decentralized Resistance.” There, they can study squatting, graffiti, military desertion, and mutiny. The course description:
At least four other claims about “everyday resistance” will be examined. First, that most social movement organizations are the result of the accumulation and coalescence of “everyday resistance.” Second, that the accumulation of widespread and numerous acts of everyday resistance can precipitate quasi-revolutionary change. Third, that generalized forms of everyday resistance imply and rely upon a shared sense of justice and rights to be effective. Fourth, that open protest, when crushed, is likely to devolve into less dangerous forms of everyday resistance.
Ever wonder what follows in Woke’s wake? What policies should Congress and legislatures enact once the population is sufficiently woke? Yale law students who complete the “Law and Inequality” class surely will have the answers. This three-credit course is taught by Douglas NeJaime.
The course will explore the ways that laws can enforce and/or redress different forms of inequality. (This course is not an introduction to antidiscrimination law.) In exploring inequality along lines of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and class, we will consider equal protection doctrine and classic antidiscrimination law as well as other bodies of law.
Yale law students looking for more hands-on transformation can sign up for the “Local Government in Action: San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project.”
The San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project (SFALP) is a partnership between Yale Law School and the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office. SFALP students work with San Francisco Deputy City Attorneys to conceive, develop, and litigate some of the most innovative public-interest lawsuits in the country—lawsuits that tackle problems with local dimensions but national effects. SFALP has worked on a wide variety of issues, including consumer protection, nuisance abatement, wage theft, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, reproductive rights, Internet privacy, healthcare, housing, environmental protection, fairness in arbitration, childhood health and nutrition, payday lending, and access to legal services for immigrants.
Don’t think there are conservative counterparts to the avalanche of leftist curriculum at Yale that I am cataloging here. There aren’t, period. And only a tiny minority of the courses relate to the actual practice of law — the real challenges for which people hire lawyers. But even those appear to have a deconstructionist bent.
Space limitations by now are hampering my ability to give you the full measure of useless, transformational, kooky leftism being taught at the nation’s top law school. But here are a few more doozies from the Yale course catalog:
In “Sexuality, Gender, Health, and Human Rights,” “The overall goal is twofold: to engage students in the world of global sexual health and rights policy making as a field of social justice and public health action; and to introduce them to conceptual tools that can inform advocacy and policy formation and evaluation.”
“Slavery, Its Legacies, and the Built Environment” is an offering where “Multidisciplinary teams of students from across Yale’s professional and graduate schools ‘slavery-proof’ a particular input or process in projects that the architecture students are working on in their studio classes.”
Yale Law teaches “Sustainable Development Law and Governance” because the “world urgently needs a practical, universal, and effective framework for sustainable development to address the simultaneous challenges of ending poverty, increasing social inclusion, and sustaining local and planetary life systems.” Yes, this is a law school course.
“Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy” is where the “goal is to encourage students to become independent thinkers able to engage multiple avenues of persuasion simultaneously to push for structural change in service of criminal justice reform and democratic function. The clinic provides a real-world laboratory for students to tackle pressing issues related to criminal justice and inequality using a coordinated and interdisciplinary array of advocacy tools including strategic litigation, administrative advocacy, coalition building, media, and communications.”
While taking “Justice and Society,” Yale law students develop highly marketable skills for their eventual practice of law, such as “distinctions amongst differing communities with an eye toward geography, race, ethnicity, marginalization, SES, heterogeneity, architecture, and history. Elements we explore include, but are not limited to criminal justice, public safety, social cohesion, shared expectations, informal and formal social control, public health, racism, gender, legal estrangement, citizenship, political voice, and love.”
There is so much more that space limitations don’t allow me to share. But stay tuned: nine more law schools to go. Nine more journeys into crackpot curricula that help explain why America is being deconstructed so rapidly by its educated elites with law degrees from the top law schools.
J. Christian Adams is an election lawyer who served in the Voting Rights Section at the U.S. Department of Justice. His New York Times bestselling book is Injustice: Exposing the Racial Agenda of the Obama Justice Department (Regnery). He is President of the Public Interest Legal Foundation and serves as a Presidential appointee on the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Follow him on Twitter @electionlawctr. For media inquiries, please contact email@example.com.