September 28, 2015

JOHN O. MCGINNIS: The Association of American Law Schools Needs More Political Diversity.

In the week that a new organization, Heterodox Academy, was established to press for more ideological diversity in academic life, the learned association in my own profession showed how much it is needed. The Association of American Law Schools (AALS) sent around a notice of its prospective annual meeting, highlighting its most prominent speakers. Of the thirteen announced, none is associated predominantly with Republican party, but eleven are associated with the Democratic Party. Many are prominent liberals. None is a conservative or libertarian.

Five are judges, including Stephen Breyer, all appointed by Democrats. Another is the incoming Senate leader of the Democrats. Three others contributed predominantly to Democrats. One for whom no contributions could be found held a fund raiser for President Obama. Another worked for the Democratic side of the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment of President Clinton.

It is true that Michael Bloomberg is also speaking. He has been at various points a Democratic and a Republican and is now an independent. Perhaps the AALS thought that a single person could create diversity through his many political avatars! But seriously, Bloomberg, who has crusaded for gun control and limitations on permissible ounces in a sugary soda, does not resemble a conservative or libertarian. He ran as a Republican in 2000 for Mayor of New York City because it was the nomination he could acquire.

Now my point is not to disparage the highlighted speakers. They are all eminent men and women. Some have even take positions friendly to ordered liberty. Deborah Rhode has made excellent arguments for the deregulation of the legal profession. But when everyone shares largely convergent premises, intellectual discourse is stunted. And the lack of diversity is particularly embarrassing in the legal academy.

Yes, it is.

Plus: “The obliviousness of the AALS to need for political diversity stands in stark contrast to its relentless push for gender, racial, and ethnic diversity.” Yes, it does.

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