Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia sharply criticised law school at, of all places, his recent commencement speech at William & Mary Law School.
Scalia said prestigious law schools around the country are not adequately preparing law students because they’re letting them take questionable electives in place of more important traditional courses. He attacked schools that let their second- and third-year law students to “study whatever strikes his or her fancy — so long as there is a professor who has the same fancy.”
He complained that some of those electives “have a distinct non-legal flavour,” such as a Harvard course called “The Philosophical Reinvention of Christianity,” and the University of Chicago’s “Contemporary Virtue Ethics.”
“This elimination of a core curriculum, and the accompanying proliferation of narrow (not to say silly) elective courses has not come without its costs,” he said.
He singled out the University of Chicago Law School, asserting that it’s possible to graduate from that school without ever studying the First Amendment.
“Can someone really call himself an American lawyer who has that gap in his compendious knowledge of the law?” he said. “And can a society that depends so much upon lawyers for shaping public perceptions and preserving American traditions regarding the freedom of speech and religion, afford so ignorant a bar?”
This is not the first time Scalia has criticised law school education or law school electives. At the University of New Hampshire Law School in 2013, he told students to “take the bread and butter” classes.
“Do not take, ‘law and women,’ do not take ‘law and poverty,’ do not take ‘law and anything.”
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