Bench Memos

BAALS (Biased Association of American Law Schools) in the Big Easy

For another example of the left-wing bias that pervades America’s law schools, book your reservation now for the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS). Though the meeting won’t convene in New Orleans until January, AALS’s website is actively soliciting suggestions for “hot topics” on “late-breaking legal issues or topics” for panel presentations. One of the “hot topics” already scheduled by the AALS Committee on Professional Development: “Voter Suppression and the 2012 Election.”

The 2009 meeting featured no panel looking at voter suppression activities such as the New Black Panther Party’s intimidation of Philadelphia voters and poll watchers in 2008. But it’s a safe bet that the 2013 session will focus on state measures intended to protect the franchise and prevent unlawful vote dilution. We’re talking measures like voter ID, requiring proof of citizenship to register, or removing felons, the deceased, noncitizens, and others who are ineligible to vote from the voting rolls. 

The title of this 2013 session would seem to presuppose that anyone in favor of such election-integrity measures must be guilty of voter suppression. This is a false assumption, and the wording of the title casts grave doubt on the objectivity both of the session and of the umbrella organization that sponsors it.

And just what is the “Committee on Professional Development?” Most people would assume that its responsibility lies with ensuring the development of lawyers who adhere to the highest standards of the ethical and professional codes of conduct that govern all attorneys. Holding an apparently one-sided workshop on the voting and election process seems a bit far afield from that responsibility.

The AALS brochure for the 2013 meeting refers to the organization as “the legal academy’s learned society.” Is this workshop what the AALS considers to be an example of “learned” discussion of an important issue? Is it voter suppression to comply with federal law (the National Voter Registration Act) that requires states to remove ineligible individuals from their voter rolls? Is it voter suppression to require proof of citizenship when it is a felony for a noncitizen to register and vote? Is it voter suppression to agree with the Supreme Court’s decision (and that of most other courts) that voter ID is a perfectly reasonable requirement? Do the law schools listed as donors to the AALS — schools such as Pepperdine, Georgetown, and Loyola — believe that a seminar that appears to presuppose a conclusion without first examining the law and the facts exemplifies how a “learned society” should pursue intellectual truth?

This is but the latest example of the ideological misrule that dominates our law schools — a phenomenon already amply catalogued by Walter Olson in his book Schools for Misrule. That ideological bias has catapulted corrosively bad ideas into the legal mainstream — ideas that are eating away at the rule of law and the very fabric of our culture and society.


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